Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Data Replication? Who Cares ...?

I don’t expect data replication will be on the top of many business agendas. I don't have any research statistic to back that up however I don’t recall ever seeing it on one the lists that get published telling us what’s on the agendas of the IT manager, CTO, CIO or whoever.  In my experience growing businesses in particular tend to use many different independent applications to manage their operations it is an afterthought. It’s only considered once the business realises there’s an issue.

The issue might be that data from one application wasn’t in line with data in another. This might sound small but the impact could ripple. For instance imagine the customer details in a financial system were not the same as those in the online CRM application. The impact is a frustrated customer as the invoices goes out with a misspelling of their name as when the customer called in to notify you of the change it was only updated by a customer facing employee who only had access to the CRM system. What would happen if it were the address, do you think you’re going to get paid on time?

Another might be with using legacy systems, which were meant to have died out with the dinosaurs but in reality are still the cornerstone of many businesses IT infrastructure, reliably storing and serving up data. The requirement for data replication comes when the data is not getting returned quick enough or the frequency at which its being requested impacts the performance of the application the legacy system supports. Recently a client told us that users were binning a recent IT project of implementing a companywide Intranet application saying it was too slow. The issue related to the response times of the AS400 as this was where much of the data in the intranet solution was stored. In order to improve the performance the data required was replicated into a dedicated MS SQL database, issue solved.

Making sure your data is synchronised between applications is always going to be an issue. Perhaps the one that we are seeing more than most is the need to replicate data out of multiple database types for business reporting. Many businesses do this by accessing the data directly against the individual databases however more and more are using staging databases, data warehouses to bring business critical data into one place. This could be due to one of the issues mentioned above, it could be due to the inevitably growth in data. As data storage becomes even cheaper and usable data coming from more sources specifically online data there should be a realisation. If more data can be captured then more data will be captured! Business Intelligence, which is quite a hot topic on many organisations agenda according to the majority of research that’s published conforms to the belief that success is in the detail. Understanding data helps support the decisions a business makes to shape its future.

In these instances finding a tool that can reliably connect the dots of heterogeneous data sources is golden.

The right tool can have a positive impact, it can reduced the number of man hours spent on a process that has been used for years. It can improve reliability and relieve frustration by reducing the operational risks in all manner of ways. There is a ripple effect and it starts with the data.

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Written by:  Ben Hedger, Senior Sales Consultant 

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