But storage capabilities have struggled to keep pace with this explosion, and most businesses simply cannot afford to store multiple copies and reproductions of all the data they need to do business. Not only is it financially challenging to do so, it is also incredibly difficult for a user to get useful real-time business information from a multitude of different data repositories - not to mention the difficulty in tracking where each piece of data came from as required by recent privacy regulations.
This is exactly where data virtualization comes in, as it provides businesses with easily accessible, integrated views of all the relevant data.
According to Gartner, by 2020 over a third (35%) of enterprises will have put a data virtualization initiative into operation, mainly because it provides an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way of integrating all of their business information, without having to move or duplicate between the different sources.
Zettabytes of data
We live, breathe and work in a world dominated by data. To put this into some kind of context, the Data Age 2025 study, carried out by IDC, predicts that by the year 2025 the generation of information will amount to a total of 163 zettabytes, and that the volume of data produced will have increased 10 times worldwide.
The real problem occurs when managers and business leaders need information in real-time to make decisions that affect their business. To do this, they generally have to turn to the IT department, which, in turn, must collect the information from different sources, move the data from different systems, integrate it and provide a unique view. All of these are actions that, to date, have rarely been possible in real time.
This is where a data virtualization platform can help businesses to get a holistic view of their data, effectively acting as an efficient middleware layer to connect any source of information with any user or business application.
As most modern companies are data-oriented, this type of instant real-time accurate access to multiple, different sources of data has the potential to generate deep transformations and massive benefits to the business.
After all, collecting, collating and keeping all your business information in one place is only half the challenge. The other half involves the agile delivery of data in a format that can serve business users according to their needs.
Moving to a virtual data warehouse
To achieve this, organisations need to move from a static model, based on the idea of a data repository, to a dynamic model, in which the data warehouse is virtual. Then, to achieve the necessary dynamism, they can implement a data virtualization platform that connects to each source of information, regardless of its location.
In practice, this means that every single decision-maker within the business can be far better informed and, thus, able to make better decisions based on having access to accurate and up-to-date business information at all times.
This also means that business users can be far more self-sufficient and that IT departments can become a far more strategic element of the company.
Data virtualization is essentially a layer that perfectly combines data from various sources and delivers it in real-time, providing companies with agile, reliable and secure business information that meets their specific needs.
The avalanche of new data we can realistically expect over the next decade means that traditional data integration processes are woefully inadequate when it comes to delivering fast, accurate insights that businesses need to survive and thrive.
Data virtualization enables businesses to create a fully integrated single view of all the data it needs, allowing individual users to access and gain insights from this business information, without having to rely on the IT department as was traditionally the case.