TIBCO was presented with a complex business challenge by one of its Fortune 50 Financial Services customers in the US. The company was faced with the typical but not insignificant problem of integrating the data and systems of another large financial services organisation it had acquired. To complicate matters, this integration needed to take place against a backdrop of the industry implementing tough new regulations around data integrity and management.
The company in question had a history of physically consolidating data from acquired companies’ systems into their systems. As a result, their “acquisition integration DNA” was one of falling into “another massive ETL project.”
Taking a step back to contemplate
The Vice President that owned integration programme, looked at the challenge of the impending integration and the complications and costs implicit with extract, transform and load (ETL) projects where data is physically replicated. He identified several ETL downsides that he wanted to avoid, including the fact that ETL projects are often quite time consuming, and more so when dealing with data of massive scope as in this case. To achieve the benefits of the merger quickly, the firm did not have the luxury of waiting months to see the combined data. Furthermore, regulations required high levels of auditability from source to consumer and ETL, where transformations and storage occur in different systems, make this end-to-end traceability and attestation difficult.
In this instance, the newly acquired company had already successfully implemented a number of data virtualisation projects with TIBCO. This led to the question as to whether data virtualisation could be a viable data integration option, even though it would be a departure from the “automatic ETL” approach the acquiring company had traditionally taken.
Absorbing the benefits of Data Virtualisation
The data virtualisation experiences of the company being acquired provided an impressive reference point for how the technology could be used generically. They had already implemented a significant data virtualisation layer that had integrated 200 disparate data sources from 25 applications serving over 500 data consumers. This delivered a number of clear business benefits. By virtualising access to these data sources, the company reduced infrastructure costs associated with building physical data stores. They were also able to become far more flexible and agile in quickly giving data consumers quick and easy access to new data sources with no disruption. The projects had also increased business opportunities as developers can now rapidly connect new applications to new data sources and thereby accelerate new application delivery. Plus every access point, transformation, and delivery was automatically tracked, making data audits easier than ever before.
Rapid Merger Data Integration
Seeing the benefit of the existing data virtualisation use cases, the VP of the acquiring company was able to satisfy himself that his curiosity around the technology was well founded. As a result, the firm applied data virtualisation to create a single virtualised pool of integrated data from across the two companies. This gave data consumers one virtual place to go for data from either or both firms. And with data virtualisation they were able to provide this data without having to first “lift and shift” from the acquired firm’s data management systems into equivalent systems at the acquiring firm using ETL. And from a time to merged business value point of view, with data virtualization the merged companies were able to get a unified view of all their data within weeks, whereas ETL would have required months, if not longer.
Virtualising access to the data sources, while leaving them in place meant that the company got the integrated view of data they needed without having to make fundamental decisions about which systems and applications they might eventually need to adapt or decommission. This removed the pressure to make rapid and possibly mistaken core infrastructure decisions at the time of integration. As an example, both companies in this merger had its own commercial banking portal. The merged organisation needed one portal with the branding of the acquiring company. Once the initial integration between the portals was accomplished virtually, the company was able to go back and modify or retire underlying or consumer systems independently without affecting their valued commercial banking customers.
Once the dust had settled after the successful merger, the company was able to access and quantify what turned out to be a quite compelling ROI on their use of TIBCO Data Virtualisation.
Meeting merger schedule objectives – The company was able to meet all the deadlines for integrating data and thus enable a seamless business transition. This included supporting the data needs for both internal and external data consumers, within and across both firms.
Deliver additional revenue streams – The VP carried KPIs to implement integrations that enabled new revenue streams. By quickly plugging new data streams from the merged firm into a variety of customer applications, data virtualisation accelerated the time-to-market for these revenue driving applications.
Cost effective consolidated infrastructure – Because data virtualization leverages existing data infrastructure, there was no need to spend on additional databases, ETL and integration infrastructure.
Success Factors Summarised
Utilizing a data virtualisation platform, where data consumers are separated from data sources provided the organization with the integration agility that was the foundation for realising the merger’s strategic value. TIBCO Data Virtualisation not only facilitated a swift and painless merger integration, it provided a solid, agile data infrastructure to drive additional improvements post-merger. Distinct from other data virtualisation solutions, TIBCO Data Virtualisation’s unique contributions to this foundation were absolutely critical including:
The ability to easily create virtual views/data services across disparate data sources using TIBCO’s integrated development environment (IDE) facilitated rapid response to new information requests. This turned business users into data virtualization advocates.
TIBCO’s ability to cache materialised views offered significant benefits, such as providing 24×7 access to data, minimizing the performance effect on underlying systems and the ability to update the cache on a scheduled basis. These effectively countered objections from ETL teams designed to justify the data-consolidation status quo.
TIBCO’s ability to expose business functionality as web services eliminated the need to write special Java or web services wrapper code. This enabled the delivery of a wide variety of data sources – including legacy, external, merged and more – to the business in a consistent manner and further encouraged business adoption of data virtualization.
Through agile integration of new data sources and new data consumers whenever the need arises, TIBCO’s value add has continued beyond the merger use cases, contributing daily to the companies’ top and bottom lines. That’s a merger we can all respect!
For more on TIBCO and how data virtualisation can help improve your business, click here.