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Monday, September 05, 2005

Data Sources : Consolidation vs. Federation

There is always a need to have multiple operational data sources spread among multiple business groups and locations and every business desires to have a clear, consolidated view across all this information at once. Infoworld writes, "There’s a fundamental decision that organization grapples with -consolidation all your data onto a single database platform, or implement a federation solution. Earlier, the deck was heavily stacked in favor of consolidation. Federation has come a long way in recent years, owing to improvements in data profiling and metadata management, new levels of abstraction for accessing different systems, and new methods of getting at deeper pools of data". Today a federation solution might allow users to correlate historical data in a warehouse with real-time data from transactional systems and even pull in supporting documentation from content management systems and file servers - without migration migraines.
In practice, the solution may well involve a mixture of the two approaches. The difference between Oracle & IBM , principal database players is one of emphasis: Oracle would have you shoot for 80 percent consolidation and 20 percent federation, whereas IBM would push that ratio just as far the other way. Two paths to more meaningful views of enterprise information and richer, real-time business intelligence have clearly emerged. The federation camp, represented by IBM, focuses on middleware for integrating heterogeneous data sources and optimizing queries that span many systems. The Oracle consolidation camp zeroes in on a standard database platform - and on providing methods for moving data from one database to another. Unlike IBM and Oracle, enterprise IT organizations can’t afford to be exclusively focused on either consolidation or federation. They must choose the right tools - or combination of tools - for the job at hand. In practice, those choices will depend more on compatibility with existing architectures and skill sets than on commitment to one ideology over another.

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