Supporting Your Data Fabric Journey

 

Why Embark on a Data Fabric Journey

More data sources, more silos, more complexity, and constant change.  Data architectures are challenged to keep pace, creating a big problem for today’s data-driven organisations – one that puts your business at risk.

In response, data-driven organisations are implementing data fabrics.  One of the hottest analyst and vendor terms in data management today, data fabrics are among data and analytics fastest-growing trends.

But what exactly is a data fabric?

A data fabric is defined as a modern distributed data architecture that includes shared data assets and optimised data fabric pipelines that you can use to address today’s data challenges in a unified way.

You can use a data fabric to:

  • Fuel You Data-Driven Business:  Support multiple, diverse users and use cases with a modern distributed data architecture, shared data assets, and optimised data management and integration processes.
  • Accelerate Value Realisation:  Accelerate time to value by unlocking your distributed on-premises, cloud, and hybrid cloud data – no matter where it resides – and delivering it at the pace of your business.
  • Empower You People with Timely, Consistent, and Trusted Data:  Democratise data access to arm business users with all the data required to make faster and more accurate business decisions.
  • Benefit from Technology Innovation Sooner:  Embrace new data and analytics technology advancements such as data science, real-time data, and the cloud faster to stay ahead of your competition.
  • Save Time and Money:  Streamline data management and integration processes and pipelines via an optimised combination of intelligent, converged data management and integration capabilities that embed AI/ML and business self-service.
  • Govern and Comply With Confidence:  Ensure proper data governance and control so you can deliver the right data at the right time, securely, and in compliance with your ever-changing regulatory landscape.

 

The Sum is Greater than the Parts

With so many benefits, it is little wonder that data-driven organisations like yours are seeking data fabric solutions and vendors are rushing to fill this demand.  But despite what many vendors might tell you, a data fabric is not a single product or specific platform that you simply buy and insert into your existing data architecture. It is more complex than that because your solutions, like your data challenges, are complex as well.

A data fabric combines three major elements including:

  • Optimised data and metadata, data integration, and data delivery capabilities so you can intelligently simply, automate, and accelerate your data fabric pipelines.
  • Shared data assets that support all your users and use cases.
  • Flexible distributed data fabric architecture that fits your complex, ever-changing technology landscape.

Implementing a data fabric requires significant effort that can span several years.  A journey so to speak.  The last sections of the paper is dedicated on how TIBCO can support your ongoing data fabric journey.

 

Before You Start, Consider These Design Principles

Before embarking on your data fabric journey, it is important to consider these five design principles.

  1. Embrace the fact that your data is now and will continue to be distributed across multiple on-premises and cloud silos.  You data fabric solution will need to support such a distributed landscape.  Said another way, if you goal is to centralise all your data into a single location, then a data fabric is not right for you.
  2. Understand your data fabric’s scope is extensive including:
    • Data for All Users and Use Cases:  Provides timely, consistent, and trusted data for your wide range of analytic, operational, and governance use cases, as well business self-service users.
    • Data from Any and All Sources:  Accesses, combines, and transforms both in-motion an dat-rest data from across your diverse, distributed data landscape using metadata, models and pipelines.
    • Data that Spans Any Environment:  Flexibly spans your distributed on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.
  3. Beyond technology, your data fabric must include your most important data itself.  For example, your master and reference data are integral parts of the data fabric and cannot be treated as standalone or side projects.  Further that data must be easy-to-access, understand, trust, and use, so you can deliver data with appropriate quality and semantic consistency.
  4. Take advantage of technology convergence.  Use your data fabric transformation to modernise your data management, metadata management, data integration, and data delivery capabilities by replacing standalone siloed capabilities with more-integrated ones.
  5. Finally, your data fabric must work efficiently.  Modern data fabrics embed AI/ML to reduce workloads by automating manual processes such as data discovery and matching, data model design, and query optimisation.  And role-based, self-service tools help you expand your data fabric resource pool.

 

How TIBCO Data Fabric Capabilities Can Help

TIBCO is uniquely positioned to help your business and IT teams successfully build your data fabric.

  • Converged data & metadata management, data integration, and delivery capabilities:  To intelligently simplify, automate, and accelerate your data ingestion, transformation, and provisioning pipelines so you can save time, cut costs, and reduce friction, TIBCO converges data & metadata management, data integration, and data delivery capabilities within one unified platform, enhanced by embedded AI/ML and business self-service.  Only TIBCO’s data fabric solution converges:
    • Data & Metadata Management:
      • Data & Process Modeling
      • Master & Reference Data Management
      • Metadata Management
      • Data Quality
      • Data Governance
    • Data Integration:
      • Data Virtualisation
      • Messaging
      • Streaming
      • ETL/ELT
      • Replication
      • Synchronisation
    • Data Delivery:
      • Data Catalogue
      • API Management
      • Data Preparation
      • Security
  • Holistic data asset sharing:  To ensure your data fabric supports all your users and use cases, TIBCO lets you manage your most valuable, shared data assets holistically.  With TIBCO, you no longer need to treat metadata, master data, reference data, business rules, knowledge graphs, as well as your transaction data and streaming data assets, as unique unrelated domains.  Being more holistic creates synergies that simplify governance, security, control, and so much more.
  • Easier-to-deploy and adapt distributed data fabric architecture:  To help you build a data fabric that is right for your complex, ever-changing technology landscape, TIBCO openly supports nearly every option you might consider.  This support gives you the flexibility to meet your unique and evolving data fabric needs, without being forced to limit yourself to a particular architecture pattern, cloud supplier, or technology-enabling solution.

TIBCO’s most relevant data fabric products include:

TIBCO® Data Virtualization breaks down data silos delivering one place to access, combine, and provision all your data.  Business-friendly data views simplify access and hide IT complexity.  Agile data engineering speeds time-to-solution, reduces costs, and delivers the most up-to-date and complete information to your business.

TIBCO Cloud™ Integration lets you connect on-premises and cloud environments, develop cloud-native apps using microservices, and process IoT data on edge devices quickly with API-led and event-driven integration.

TIBCO® Streaming lets you analyse, continuously query, and act on IoT and other streaming data at lightning fast speeds.  Take real-time operations and analytics to the next level without extra overhead.

TIBCO EBX™ Software lets you share, manage, and govern all your key data assets including master, reference, and hierarchy data with single multi-domain master data management solution designed for business users.

TIBCO Cloud™ Metadata lets you holistically manage all your metadata including business metadata (glossaries, definitions, policies, rules), physical metadata (data dictionaries, data lineages), and the data catalogs (datasets, entitlements) in one place.

TIBCO Omni-Gen® DQ prepackaged cleansing tools, data lineage insight, and profiling ensures the mission-critical data quality you need to make strategic decisions with confidence.

 

Data Fabric Reference Architecture

 

Key Steps in Your Data Fabric Implementation Journey

As mentioned earlier in the article, a data fabric is not a single product or platform.  IT’s a combination of data management and integration capabilities, shared data assets, and a modern distributed data architecture.  As a result, your unique data fabric implementation journey will have many starting points, interim steps, and destinations.

For best success, consider these steps:

  1. Start with your data fabric vision and strategy
    • What are your goals?
    • How will you get there?
    • Who can help?
      • Your answers to these questions will inform your data fabric strategy and vision.  They will clarify your business objectives, define you technical requirements, establish your implementation timelines, and identify your resource needs.
  2. Prioritise highest business impact data fabric opportunities
    • What are your most compelling data-driven business opportunities?
    • What adjacent technology initiatives such as cloud migration can be accelerated by your data fabric efforts?
    • Which data management challenges constrain your progress the most?
      • Your answers to these questions will help you prioritise where to focus first.  Further, your success in these high visibility areas will showcase the business value your data fabric efforts provide.
  3. Perform a data and metadata management, data integration, and data delivery gap analysis
    • What capabilities do you have today?
    • Will they meet the technical requirements you identified above?
    • What new capabilities do you need to onboard?
      • If new capabilities are required, you need to evaluate proven vendor solutions.  When you do this, look for converged capabilities as their synergies will save on internal system integration  Also look for products that embed AI/ML to automate key data fabric activities and save resources.  And seek out solutions that support holistic approach to share data assets as these create greater consistency across your data fabric.
  4. Take advantage of data virtualisation if you have not already done so
    • How will your data fabric span your distributed data silos?
    • Where will create semantic consistency across your diverse data sets?
    • How will you ensure security and control as your fabric surfaces data for you many use cases and users?
      • The generally accepted answer to all these questions is data virtualisation.  If you have already adopted data virtualisation for other use cases, plan to expand your deployment.  And if you need to obtain a solution, then TIBCO Data Virtualization is a quadrant leading capability.
  5. Standardise your approach to shared data assets
    • What are your most important shared data assets such as your master and reference data?
    • Have you defined these assets consistently across your organisation?
    • How do you make sure everyone uses these assets consistently as well?
      • You use your master and reference data everywhere.  Your data fabric is your best way to standardise, share, and use these critical, shared data assets so you can use them consistently across your organisation.  Adopt a multi-domain, multi-style MDM solution like TIBCO EBX to manage these assets consistently.  Then simply shared access using your data fabric’s data virtualisation and business-friendly catalogue capabilities.
  6. Organise agility and productivity
    • Where are you using agile methods today?
    • How will your data fabric development processes impact your other agile processes such as DevOps, DataOps, and ModelOps?
    • Who will you task with adapting these processes to incorporate your data fabric efforts?
      • You can use agile methods to create and refine the objects that make up your data fabric implementation.  To get the agility and productivity you seek, you will need to define, optimise, measure an improve your data fabric design, development, deployment, and management processes.  Holistic data, converged data management and integration solutions, and embedded AI/ML will help.
  7. Prove value, then scale up
    • How much has your data fabric impacted your data-driven business?
    • Where will your data fabric go next?
    • How will you fund that expansion?
      • Successfully implementing a series of small data fabric projects is the quickest way to demonstrate your data fabric’s business value.  Your success can fund the additional resources required to expand your fabric to include more data domains and business functions — efforts that eventually result in an enterprise-wide data fabric.
  8. Don’t try to go it alone
    • Do you have all the skills and resources required to conceptualise and deliver your data fabric?
    • What outside help will you need?
    • Where can you find that assistance?
      • To improve your odds of data fabric implementation success it is wise to engage a systems integrator, like Ascention, with strong data fabric practices and positive references.  You can take advantage of their knowledge gathered from across many implementations so you can avoid common pitfalls and wasted efforts reinventing the wheel.  You can complement your people with theirs, filling your short-term need for extra staff required to perform the extra work associated with your data fabric implementation.  And you can use them as interim subject matter experts until the time when your team is fully skilled up.

 

Conclusion

This article summarises why data fabrics are popular, the problems data fabrics solve, the benefits you can achieve by implementing one.  Achieving these benefits will require a journey, one you can accelerate with a proven data fabric technology vendor like TIBCO with additional system integrator help from Ascention.

 

Ascention Shares Experience

Ascention wishes to impart skills and knowledge. The team at Ascention is always willing to share our experiences to assist your team’s progress – simply contact us to start an informal, no-obligation discussion.

 

Ascention Contact:

Alan Abraham, Chief Sales Officer

E: alan.abraham@ascention.com

M: +61 419 485 420

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