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Data Sprawl: Continuing Problem for the Enterprise or an Untapped Opportunity


As the founder and CEO of Promethium, a leader in the Modern Data Fabric space, I often meet with customers to help them accelerate, simplify, and reduce the complexity of their data landscape. The source of these challenges is simply that there is and will continue to be data fracturing and sprawl. This creates difficulties in agility and cost, preventing the adoption of data to empower the business. Recently, a customer suggested an idea to me that seemed very interesting. If a Data Fabric's primary role is to unify the discovery and access of data so one can easily build and consume data products, then why doesn't this extend to all the different applications where the data is NOT in a database, data lake, or data warehouse?



He had a point. In today's complex and dynamic digital environment, the integration of diverse data sources and applications is a key challenge for businesses. The current data ecosystem is characterized by a significant increase in the variety of data, the sprawl of data across multiple systems and locations, and the presence of data in applications outside traditional databases or data warehouses/lakes. This complexity poses several challenges for businesses looking to derive value from their data:



1. Data in Non-Traditional Repositories: A significant amount of valuable data resides in SaaS applications and other platforms that do not function as conventional databases or data warehouses. This dispersion complicates the process of aggregating and analyzing data for business insights.



2. Increased Variety of Data Inputs: With the influx of data from social media, IoT devices, and other digital interactions, businesses are dealing with a wider array of data types, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. This variety makes it difficult to manage and integrate data effectively.



3. Data Sprawl Across Systems and Locations: Data is no longer confined to centralized systems. It's spread across cloud environments, on-premises servers, and third-party applications, creating a scattered landscape that's hard to navigate.



These 2 Worlds Have Always Been Separate. But Should That Be the Case?


In the intricate realm of modern data management, the integration of diverse data sources and applications poses significant challenges for value creation. Data integration and application integration have always remained separate which perpetuates these problems. Historically, application integration and data integration have operated as distinct solutions. iPaaS solutions have focused on connecting various software applications, ensuring they work seamlessly together, while data integration has been concerned with consolidating data from these applications and other sources for analysis and insights. This separation often leads to complexities and inefficiencies in managing the broader data ecosystem.


When we think about applications and harnessing data from applications, we instantly think of iPaaS solutions. These vendors provide powerful platforms that streamline the integration of diverse data sources, simplifying the connection between disparate systems and locations. iPaaS Vendors include MuleSoft (Salesforce), Boomi, Informatica, Workato, and SnapLogic. The iPaaS market is experiencing significant growth. Per Gartner, it was valued at approximately USD 3.5 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 22% over the next few years. Here's a look at the key data integration vendors and their strengths:


  • MuleSoft (Salesforce): Offers robust integration solutions, enabling seamless connectivity between applications and data.

  • Boomi: Specializes in cloud-based integration, providing efficient connections across various data sources.

  • Informatica: A leader in data management, offering comprehensive solutions for cloud data integration.

  • Workato: Known for its automation capabilities, facilitating the integration of applications and data sources.

  • SnapLogic: Provides a user-friendly platform for connecting a range of cloud and on-premises applications.


Enter the Data Fabric: An Opportunity to Unify?


However, the advent of Data Fabric technology presents an unprecedented opportunity to unify these two realms, creating a more cohesive and efficient approach to data management. Data Fabric technology emerges as a transformative solution. It acts as a layer that not only integrates data from various sources but also has the potential to bridge the gap between application and data integration. Data Fabric can weave together disparate data types, locations, and sources, including the data flowing through various applications managed by iPaaS solutions – all in a SINGLE consolidated view.


Similarly, the Data Fabric market is on an upward trajectory. According to Markets and Markets, the global Data Fabric market is expected to grow from USD 1.5 billion in 2020 to USD 5.7 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of around 26%. Data Fabric Vendors include:


  • Promethium: Delivers innovative data fabric technology, enhancing data accessibility and analysis.

  • Starburst: Offers solutions for querying data across multiple sources without moving it.

  • Denodo: Specializes in data virtualization, providing a data fabric approach for agile business intelligence.

  • Microsoft: Offers advanced data integration and analytics capabilities as part of its Azure services.


Why Unification can be interesting...  


While each iPaaS and Data Fabric are powerful solutions on their own, they also present their challenges when it comes to getting value out of data.


The iPaaS Challenge: Expertise-Dependent Integration:

  • iPaaS solutions have traditionally required deep expertise. Subject matter experts and data owners often deal with complex schemas, tables, and columns to build effective integration flows. This process is often daunting, time-consuming, and prone to inaccuracies, as only those with thorough knowledge of the data, the data source, and the iPaaS solution can execute it effectively.


The Data Fabric Challenge: Beyond Conventional Data Sources:

  • Data Fabric technologies excel in integrating and managing data across various environments. However, they often focus on conventional data sources like databases, data lakes, or data warehouses. This focus leaves a gap in integrating and extracting value from data residing in numerous SaaS applications, which may not seamlessly fit into these traditional data repositories.


But, if the two solutions can come together to unify both data integration and application integration, there can be a lot of benefits for businesses:


The combined solution can address complex business challenges, such as integrating data from SaaS applications with traditional data sources. This capability is particularly valuable in today's business landscape, where data is increasingly scattered across various cloud and on-premises environments. The merging of Data Fabric and iPaaS technologies offers a groundbreaking solution to this challenge, opening the door to new opportunities in data management and analysis in the following ways:


1.  Holistic Data View

Integrating application and data integration through Data Fabric provides a holistic view of an organization's data. This comprehensive perspective is crucial for effective decision-making and strategy development.


2.  Streamlined Operations

Unification eliminates the silos between application and data integration. It allows for more streamlined operations, reducing the complexity and cost associated with managing separate integration platforms.


3.  Enhanced Data Accessibility and Quality

With Data Fabric, data from various applications becomes more accessible and usable. This accessibility enhances the quality of data analysis, as it encompasses a broader range of data inputs.


4.  Real-Time Data Processing

By integrating applications with data integration, organizations can process and analyze data in real-time. This immediacy is essential in today's fast-paced business environment.


5.  Agility and Scalability

A unified approach offers greater agility and scalability. It allows businesses to quickly adapt to new data sources and applications, ensuring that their data ecosystem can grow and evolve as needed.


6.  Cost-effective and Efficient

Combining these integrations can be more cost-effective than maintaining separate systems. It streamlines the workflow and reduces the need for multiple tools and platforms.


This is a complementary and synergistic opportunity. For customers with iPaaS, here's how adding a Data Fabric can help:


Facilitating Self-Service and Accuracy:

The integration of Data Fabric with iPaaS addresses the complexity and expertise-dependency in iPaaS. Data Fabric can enable users to discover, understand, and verify data before integration flows are built. This pre-integration clarity allows for faster, more straightforward, and accurate data integration processes. It paves the way for a more democratized and self-service approach, reducing the reliance on deep subject matter experts.


For customers with a Data Fabric, here's how incorporating iPaaS can also help:


Reaching Beyond Traditional Boundaries:

By integrating iPaaS capabilities, Data Fabric can extend its reach to SaaS applications, which are increasingly prevalent in modern business ecosystems. This integration allows Data Fabric to access and analyze data from these SaaS platforms in near-real-time. Users of BI and analytics tools can extract value from SaaS applications without the usual painful and expensive integration process.


In short, if we iPaaS and Data Integration weren't separated, we can have a Unified Solution for Comprehensive Insight that creates additional value for enterprises:


The symbiosis of iPaaS and Data Fabric creates an environment where data from SaaS applications can be combined with data from traditional systems. This integration not only streamlines access to a broader data spectrum but also enables new insights by pairing SaaS data with existing data repositories. The result is a more holistic view of the data landscape, leading to more informed decision-making and innovative business strategies.


The possible integration of Data Fabric and iPaaS technologies can be more than just a wish; it can be a strategic evolution in data management. This combination promises to unlock new levels of efficiency, agility, and insight, making it an indispensable tool for businesses navigating the complex digital landscape. As the market continues to grow, the integrated solution offered by these leading vendors will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of data integration and analysis. Through the combined strengths of Data Fabric and iPaaS, enterprises can now navigate the complex data landscape with greater ease and efficiency. This synergy not only enhances operational capabilities but also opens up new avenues for innovation and growth in the ever-evolving digital marketplace.


In conclusion, the synergy between Data Fabric and iPaaS opens up a world of possibilities for businesses, providing a holistic approach to data management that is essential for success in today's data-driven economy. The combined market potential for these integrated solutions heralds a new era of opportunity and innovation in the field of data technology. In an era where data is the new currency of business, the ability to effectively harness diverse data sources has become crucial. The amalgamation of Data Fabric and iPaaS technologies presents a compelling solution to the complex challenges posed by the modern data landscape.


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