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Virtualization: Article

Virtualization - Fast-Forward to Today's Virtual Data Marts

Don't get stuck in the slow lane

Virtual Data Marts in Action
A range of industries is adopting virtual data marts for a variety of use cases. The three examples below illustrate how virtual data marts apply to real-life business situations:


  • Mortgage Loans. In the financial services industry, a virtual data mart integrates loan origination, risk analysis, approval and funding systems’ data to support real-time management and monitoring of over 10,000 loans in process.
  • Well Maintenance and Repair Data. In the energy industry, a virtual data mart combines repair rig status, staffing availability, best practice procedures, well maintenance records, and flow rates from disparate operational systems to enable real-time repair resource dispatching.
  • Single View of Cell Phone Customer Activities. In the telecom industry, a virtual data mart combines customer activities data from Siebel CRM and historical data warehouse to provide customer service representatives with complete, up-to-the-minute pictures of customers.

When, Not Whether, to Virtualize
As noted by Gartner, complex enterprises will require multiple approaches to data integration. When choosing among different approaches, project teams should consider a number of key factors with respect to the desired business solution and the existing data. The following five are the most critical:

  • Data Requirements. What is the business goal? What data is required? How does it relate? And how should it? How much transformation is required? Is dimensioning the data for heavy-duty analysis required? Or is combining disparate types (XML, relational, etc.) into an easy-to-understand, easy-to-use tabular form sufficient?
  • Source Data Volatility and Latency. How often does the source data change? What will ensure data is fresh (periodic ETL refreshes, changed data capture or federated query on demand)? What is the source system’s performance SLAs? How will the load be supported?
  • BI Solution Volatility and Latency. Does the user require up-to-the-minute data? What is the performance SLA for the consuming BI solution? What will ensure timely delivery (pure replication, pure virtual or a mix of the two with some caching)? How complex are the queries and transformations? How much volume?
  • Agility. How well understood are the requirements? Will they change over time? Is the schema easy to extend? Can virtualization support rapid, iterative development and “harden” with physical marts later? Can this work be used to jump start other projects?
  • Total Cost. What is the business benefit? What are the additional business benefits accrued by accelerating the project’s completion? How much budget is available for data integration? Will the extra costs required for replication be covered in the current budget? Will the greater flexibility inherent with virtualization provide future value/cost savings?

Don’t Get Stuck in the Slow Lane
As Honda transformed itself from a niche, Japanese motorcycle maker to one of the world’s respected automobile companies, virtual data marts have moved from a promising capability to a mainstream data integration solution that addresses a large percentage of BI demand. Better hardware, software, and standards have contributed to this transformation from vision to reality, but customers have also demanded faster, lower cost, more nimble approaches as well. Together, these forces have spawned a valuable new opportunity, proven in many large enterprises today. Don’t get stuck in the slow lane.


1. Data Federation Adoption Increases as Part of Complete Data Integration Strategy. Ted Friedman. ID Number: G00152082. 5 October 2007. © 2007 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliate

2. How Much Information? 2003. Peter Lyman and Hal R. Varian, et al. University of California, Berkeley, 2003.

More Stories By Robert Eve

Robert "Bob" Eve is vice president of marketing at Composite Software. Prior to joining Composite, he held executive-level marketing and business development roles at several other enterprise software companies. At Informatica and Mercury Interactive, he helped penetrate new segments in his role as the vice president of Market Development. Bob ran Marketing and Alliances at Kintana (acquired by Mercury Interactive in 2003) where he defined the IT Governance category. As vice president of Alliances at PeopleSoft, Bob was responsible for more than 300 partners and 100 staff members. Bob has an MS in management from MIT and a BS in business administration with honors from University of California, Berkeley. He is a frequent contributor to publications including SYS-CON's SOA World Magazine and Virtualization Journal.

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