Here today. Where tomorrow?
These may be the words on the lips of many bankers today, as they survey the continuing turmoil in global financial markets. In fact, this was the incredibly apposite tagline on a recent magazine advertisement for a major bank which (maybe unsurprisingly) was subsequently nationalised.
In the fluid (many would say “bloody”) landscape of financial services, with the next merger or acquisition just around the corner, it means that now, more than ever, data integration is a growing challenge. Accompanying this activity is the ever-growing need for consistency, accuracy, transparency and control of both the data itself and the movement of that data.
Data architecture itself is an evolving discipline and one approach worth looking at is data federation – deftly described in an article by Dain Hansen. Basically, the approach is to leave the data where it is but aggregate it into a single view, available as a service to your applications. It is an approach that Xenomorph has advocated for many years, going back to our founding days in the mid-90s, with the normalized database driver approach implemented in our Connectivity Services.
Hansen’s article explains both the advantages (simplicity, no need to copy or synchronize) and the disadvantages (performance) of this approach, and argues for a solution that incorporates both federation and consolidation of data. He shows that it is possible to architect a system that will provide consistency and control as well as agility.
It’s difficult to say whether better data management would have assisted the world’s banks in avoiding their current troubles, but greater transparency of where exactly their exposures lay would certainly have helped.