Data fabrics are getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. But, for any topic with a lot of hype, there also tends to be a lot of confusion.
If you are still trying to fully grasp where the concept of a data fabric architecture fits amongst all of the warehouses, lakes, lakehouses, and meshes of the data engineering world, let's set the record straight.
What is a data fabric? A data fabric is a toolset that connects data across disparate sources to create a unified data model. It's a virtualized data layer that pulls directly from your current data sources wherever they live and lets you leave your existing data architecture intact.
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As with any new innovation, the data fabric you choose must prove to be value added for the business in order to garner your organization’s investment. Let’s take a look at some of the real-world benefits of data fabrics.
1. Simplified system integrations.
Data fabrics provide a single point of access to all data sources. With a data fabric architecture, you do not need to hook into system-to-system API calls directly in order to access data—the APIs are abstracted away. This abstraction lets you take advantage of the data in different systems without needing to know what the source system is or how to connect to it.
Data fabric takes a unique approach to integrating data sources by keeping them where they are and creating a virtualized data layer in a centralized platform, complete with the ability to connect, relate, and extend data. This completely eliminates costly, time-consuming, and error-prone custom integration projects and greatly reduces maintenance over time.
2. Faster time to market for applications.
Because data fabrics take away some of the burden of managing data in applications by stitching together your data sources, the data integration process is streamlined.
With a streamlined integration process, it’s faster and easier to develop new applications that require access to multiple data sources. Projects that once stalled or even failed to get off the ground due to data management issues are now brought to life weeks and months earlier.
3. Better business insights with a complete view of your data.
Data fabrics provide a comprehensive view of data, giving you a single source of truth across the enterprise. With data fabric design, you can take data from the cloud, on-premises, and multiple sources and formats and drive it into a single location. This data management architecture also provides real-time insights with a virtual data layer that updates the source data across disparate systems as you make changes across the applications that use it.
The complete and accurate 360-degree view of data this approach provides helps business leaders make better decisions. With data fabrics, businesses gain insights into customer behavior, market trends, and operational performance, enabling data-driven decisions that lead to better outcomes.
4. Improved data governance.
Because data fabrics keep all your data in one virtualized data model, you get a full, unified view of all your different systems. With your data in one place, you can see exactly how it is being used across the organization and take action to lock it where it doesn’t need to be exposed. This allows you to implement new modes of data access in an easy, manageable way.
It’s also easy for organizations to establish clear rules for data management in a data fabric, including who can view data, who can enter data, and who can edit data.
For example, using a data fabric, you can reference data in your CRM to enforce whether specific rows of data from your HR system should be accessible. You can also build custom fields, like service level agreements (SLAs), by referencing customer data and case data, even when they aren’t located in the same system. This data management approach helps you ensure compliance with regulations and enables you to better protect sensitive data with a centralized view of where and how your data is being used.
5. Faster digital innovation.
Data fabric architectures provide a foundation for digital innovation by helping organizations leverage the full potential of their data. By providing a unified, consistent data view, data fabrics enable organizations to quickly develop new applications, products, and services that they wouldn’t be able to create otherwise, driving innovation and growth across each new project.
Data fabrics also allow you to democratize data throughout your organization. With a data fabric, your data is no longer only accessible to people with advanced data and software development skills. Business users are able to build and manage data on their own with strict IT governance. Employees across the organization who are already familiar with the type of data they’re collecting can now use it to rapidly discover real-time strategic insights and competitive advantages.
Data is the oil that fuels the digital economy. As businesses generate, collect, and store more data, they face new challenges in harnessing it effectively. Data fabrics help eliminate data silos and wrangle data into a single, unified view. And they have the flexibility, speed, and governance advantages that will benefit organizations now and into the future as the technology evolves.
Want to learn more about how to solve your data silo problems and speed up innovation? Get the eBook: The Data Fabric Advantage.