Actian Blog / What Is a Data Hub and Why Should You Care?

What Is a Data Hub and Why Should You Care?

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If you are still using point-to-point integrations to move data through your IT environment, then you are spending too much money and missing the opportunities a modern data can provide. A data hub is a centralized service that connects all of your IT systems, whether they be Web applications, IoT devices, SaaS solutions, or core business platforms, such as CRM or ERP that manages the connections to each of the systems and orchestrates the data flow amongst them.

Gartner provides an interesting perspective on what a data hub is- “This is not a technology, but an approach to more effectively determine where, when and for whom data needs to be mediated, shared and then linked and/or persisted. A data hub is a logical architecture which enables data sharing by connecting producers of data (applications, processes, and teams) with consumers of data (other applications, process, and teams). Endpoints interact, provisioning data into it or receiving data from it, and the hub provides a point of mediation and governance and visibility to how data is flowing across the enterprise.“

Point-to-point integration isn’t good enough for modern companies

If you have 100 systems in your IT environment, with point-to-point integration, then you would likely need 5,000–10,000 connections to enable them to talk to each other and share data.  You will end up with a “spaghetti architecture” that is not scalable and expensive to maintain in the long run.  This will just add to your technical debt. With a data hub, you would only need one connection for each source system. Why does this matter?  You must maintain and operate each new integration you introduce – that costs money. When you want to change or upgrade systems, tools or technologies, you must find all the connections entering and exiting what is being changed and ensure they are migrated and upgraded effectively – this is a barrier to business agility and impacts your time to market/value. If you must update credentials because of a security breach, then each point-to-point connection must be changed – that causes business disruption. The goal of your company is to excel in the modern business environment. Point-to-point data integration, however, will slow your operations and progress and deny you the achievement of your goal.

Data Hubs enable efficiency, scale, and agility

Data hubs let you avoid all this headache and focus on building the technology-enabled business processes that your operations and users need. With a data hub, connections are established to each system or component you want to integrate, and that connection is shared with all the other systems that must interact with it. Data services can be exposed and published in a consistent manner, enabling better integration of data across systems and reduce the need for data replication to support cross-system business processes. If a credential must be updated, then it occurs within the data hub, and all the subscribing applications can continue using the connection.  Data hubs also simplify the data governance requirements as the data is persisted at a central location. Data can be transformed and distributed to other endpoints easily, such as cloud data warehouses and analytics BI engines.

Though data hub is defined in this context simply a conceptual, logical or physical node in which mediation (i.e., governance policy reconciliation) is achieved through sharing, linking, storing and exchanging semantically consistent data, it remains very confusing to many companies. This is mostly due to vendors who use the term “hub” to mean warehouse. A data hub does not imply a central physical repository. A hub is like a transit station on a rail network; it is not a place where all passengers converge; a hub is a small component, part of the infrastructure; it is not an endpoint like a data warehouse or data lake.

Third-party components are essential parts of your IT environment

In many modern organizations, technology (application) components are becoming disposable commodities – entering and exiting the environment with little planning or assessment of the impact. Third-party components are becoming a mainstay for supporting business operations. IT staff are challenged to implement them quickly, integrate them into enterprise data models and ensure the frictionless flow of information while simultaneously maintaining data security and integrity. Data hubs excel at the third-party integration challenge. They enable third-party apps to be integrated (both at the data and workflow levels), yet controlled in terms of data access and retention policies.

Don’t wait, implement a data hub today!

Data hubs have been in the IT industry for many years. It is only recently, however, with the rapid adoption of cloud services and companies facing hybrid data challenges (data split across cloud and on-premises environments), that data hub solutions have become essential parts of the IT operating fabric. If your company does not yet have a data hub solution or you are still struggling with legacy point-to-point integrations, then Actian can help. Actian DataConnect provides you with a hybrid integration-platform-as-a-service (IPaaS), so you can implement your data hub solution quickly and accelerate value back to your organization.

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