Database Integration Techniques

database integration chart

Most organizations use, or need access to, multiple applications and database to store, retrieve and share information. Centralizing all that data into one source can be tricky, especially due to the differences in businesses’ needs. Database integration allows organizations to access and manage information in a unified way, and there are multiple techniques we can use to ensure that your various sources of data are aligned, combined and presented clearly to the end user.

Database Integration Basics
Consolidating data from a range of applications and sources into a single instance is called database integration. At times, it becomes necessary for organizations to centralize data from disparate systems into one cohesive, more functional database. As an example, perhaps they require a full view of consumer information, marketing trends or sales data from fully segregated product groups. At other times, separate but related organizations need to maintain individual database systems, with differing data fields, but require an integrated instance that shares data in an organized, meaningful way. In this case, perhaps a state government and its key cities.

Because organizations use different databases, integrating the assets into a unified source requires the use of various techniques depending on the type of data, its complexity, how much needs to be consolidated, and the resulting, integrated instance. The following three approaches to database integration are the most common, and one of them may be exactly what your organization needs.

Data Federation
This database integration technique combines data from multiple sources into a virtual database with a common data model. No data physically moves in this type of integration. Instead, when the data is needed, the query goes back to the original data source. This allows a federated virtual database to provide the data on demand rather than in real time.

Data Consolidation
This technique consolidates data from different sources into one repository or database. Once unified, it can be used for analysis or reporting, depending on the needs of the organization. It can also be used as a data source later on.
In the past, data consolidation was faced with the issue of latency, or the time it takes to transfer the data to the store. At times, the latency may last for a few seconds to several hours or more. However, due to constant developments in technology, this issue has nearly resolved itself, with transfers occurring almost in real time.

Data Propagation
Almost the opposite of consolidation and federation, data propagation is distributing data from a source to multiple databases. This occurs after the data has undergone transformations like data aggregation to meet expected requirements. Typically, the technology used for propagation is either enterprise data replication (EDR) or enterprise application integration (EAI).

Technologies Used for Database Integration
There are several types of technologies used for database integration, from the most well-known technology – extract, transform, load (ETL) – to EDR, and which type to use depends on the technique in play (as described above).

ETL is used primarily for data consolidation for bulk data movements.

Used for data propagation, EDR moves bulk data from one storage system to another without manipulation or transformation.

Enterprise information integration (EIL) is another common technology used for integration, which is considered to be a type of federation technology. EIL involves creating a virtual layer of underlying sources, allowing users to see the data as if it is from a single database.

Need to Implement Database Integration for Your Organization?
Using one or more of the above techniques, or otherwise, Whitebox Technologies can help your organization take full advantage of data integration and its benefits. With an integrated, agile data ecosystem, your organization is ensured of an accurate, efficient database instance to improve the understanding, management and proper use of the stored information. So, contact us today—we’d love to learn more about your database integration needs.