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October 13, 2010

ETL Alternatives: Data Federation Technology

Filed under: ETL — Tags: , — Katherine Vasilega @ 8:01 am

Today, I’ll continue talking about ETL alternatives that a company can use to satisfy its specific data integration needs. One of the relatively new approaches to data integration is data federation. This technology enables a single virtual view of enterprise information across multiple data repositories, without a need to move or copy data.

While ETL moves data into a single repository, the virtual database created by data federation technology doesn’t contain the data itself. Instead, it contains information about the actual data and its location. When a user wants to access the data, he or she sends a query specifying the needed information, and the federation server immediately delivers it as a virtual, integrated view.

This approach to data integration is especially useful if company’s data is stored by a third-party cloud service provider. It allows business analysts to aggregate and organize data quickly without having to synchronize or to copy it. Data federation as an ETL alternative is also helpful when a user needs quick reporting. Additionally, data federation technology can be used to save the cost of creating a permanent, physical relational database.

The disadvantage of data federation, however, is actually one of its strengths: it prevents data from being changed. This feature is great for retaining historical accuracy, but awkward for companies looking to continually update their data. As long as a company doesn’t need to constantly change information, data federation can be a good choice for the data integration strategy.

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