John Goodson, who heads up the Enterprise Data Solutions group within Progress, had the last timeslot before lunch to present on the role of informational integrity in operational responsiveness. Problems occur because business needs data faster than IT systems can deliver it, and inflexible methods can’t adapt to the fast-changing business conditions. Batch ETL just can’t keep up with this: data needs to be available from any system at any time as required to support real-time operations. We need to get rid of the overnight batch jobs that (for example) don’t allow me to see my banking transactions online until the following day, or can’t get my package tracking number until the package is already delivered.
Progress already provides Data Exchange for model-based data transformation and exchange; next month, they’re launching Progress Data Virtualization Server, providing real-time data access, integration and delivery from almost any data source, application and service. The key to their Enterprise Data Services is a common model – a sort of Babelfish for data – that allows access to multiple applications and data sources. They’ll leverage key industry-standard data models, such as ACORD in the insurance industry, with the goal of providing the right information in the right form at the right time.
Stepping back from just the information side, he pointed out that they’ll be providing responsive process management together with responsive information management; otherwise, data issues will impede responsiveness even if process improvement is undertaken.
Tom Aubuchon of Panhandle Energy (gas pipeline) joined Goodson on stage to discuss their data integration strategy: they used a customized supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor and control their 17,000 miles of pipeline, but need to integrate that with all of their other distribution and billing data. They have approximately 1,200 different applications, and a “hairball” of connections between them. They decided to replace their SCADA with a more generic ESB, and selected Progress because the common data model allowed them to tame all of the point-to-point connections between the applications, especially the new Data Virtualization Server.