Daily operations within modern sales, marketing, customer service, product, and finance arms of organizations generate huge volumes of data. This data is siloed away in multiple databases & applications, creating a disconnect between teams across the firm. By applying data integration concepts, you can effectively aggregate, clean & transform your complex raw data from various sources into meaningful insights.
Whether you need to see the ROI of your marketing campaigns or build a 360 customer profile, implementing the right data integration architecture allows you to form a single source of truth. A well-developed data integration architecture ensures smooth data flow between the source and destination locations by minimizing human intervention and automating the data collection and transformation process.
To make this easier for you, we have prepared a comprehensive guide that takes you through the nitty gritty of an enterprise data integration architecture. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Table of Contents
What is Data Integration Architecture?
Data integration architecture is a framework for designing and orchestrating a smooth flow between IT systems to form a single coherent view. This includes connecting to data sources and target systems as well as identifying the transformations needed to be performed on the raw data. Due to data being stored in multiple formats, structures, and data stores, a well-defined data integration architecture helps to capture, aggregate, cleanse, normalize, synthesize, and store the data in a form useful for processing.
Data Integration Architecture Examples
From connecting 2 data sources to integrating data from multiple applications into a data warehouse(single source of truth), data integration architecture can help you do it all. For instance:
- Configuration Management Database (CMDB) powering a Configuration Management System (CMS) that, in turn, fuels the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS)
- Replicating data from marketing systems into a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application
- Moving SharePoint data into a Knowledge Management System (KMS)
- Aggregating & transforming data from multiple data sources to fuel an application with real-time customer data.
Importance of Data Integration Architecture
Introducing a well-planned data integration architecture allows you to reap the following data integration benefits:
- Brings Siloed Teams Together: Promoting collaboration across various teams in a firm, a data integration architecture allows all departments to share data and be in complete sync. Easy access to complete and accurate data to teams for performing analytics saves time and manual effort in collecting and cleaning data.
- Reduces Complexity in Building Data Pipelines: A clearly defined data integration architecture pattern allows data engineers to develop data pipelines easily and ensures faster decision-making.
- Enhances Operational Efficiency: With data being simply available to IT teams in an analysis-ready form, they can quickly jump to analyzing the data and remove any unnecessary bottlenecks and delays in the decision-making process.
- Complete Business View: A data integration architecture promotes effortless and near-real-time access to a comprehensive view of every dimension of your business operations, customers, and markets. Taking scaling, reliability, and responsiveness into consideration, it provides a unified image of your business from disparate sources to deliver insights.
Also Read: Benefits of Data Integration
Types of Data Integration Architectures
There are several common data integration architecture patterns, including:
- Hub and Spoke: In this architecture, a central hub collects data from various sources and distributes it to multiple endpoints or systems. This allows for centralized control and management of the data flow, making integrating new data sources easier.
- Bus: In this architecture, a central bus is used to integrate data from multiple sources. The bus acts as a conduit for the data, allowing it to flow between different systems. This architecture can be useful for real-time data integration, as it allows for rapid data transfer between systems.
- Pipeline: In this architecture, data is transferred from one system to another using a series of discrete stages. Each stage in the pipeline is designed to perform a specific task, such as cleaning or transforming the data, and the output from one stage is passed on to the next. This architecture can be useful for complex data integration scenarios, as it allows for the creation of customized data processing pipelines.
- Federation: In this architecture, data is integrated by creating a virtual view or representation of the data that is stored in multiple systems. The virtual view is then accessed by users and applications, allowing them to work with the data as if it were stored in a single location. This architecture can be useful for enabling access to distributed data sources and can help to improve performance by reducing the need for data movement.
Data Integration Architecture Best Practices
To use your customer & business data to its fullest for analytics, you must ensure that you have laid the foundations correctly. The right data integration architecture principles will help you improve data quality and build pipelines that quickly get you to analyze ready data. Here’s a list of data integration architecture best practices that you can apply for your business:
- Integrate with an End Goal in Mind: Each data source to be connected for the business use case should be thoroughly studied before integrating it with your architecture. Each data request’s pros and cons should be crystal clear among all your line managers, data scientists, and other key stakeholders. This ensures that only the relevant data is integrated, thereby preventing an otherwise bloated data warehouse from being filled with unusable and duplicated data.
- Perform Data Quality Checks: Observability features such as tracking events or alerting for anomalies are important for your integration architecture. This is essential as data comes in multiple formats from disparate sources containing anomalies like null values, duplicate references, or even missing dates or columns.
- Establish Data Consistency: Eliminating all the confusion, this best practice ensures a single source of truth for data usage, thereby promoting a much easier collaborative environment between teams. For example, maintaining a similar format of customer information throughout the data integration process will improve overall communication between functional units in the organization and service performance.
- Detailed Integration Process Documentation: A well-documented integration process allows you to standardize it and also helps in easily identifying the cause of errors during the debugging process.
Here is our blog which has detailed information about data integration best practices.
Common Data Integration Architectural Patterns
To standardize the data integration process, developers can use the following common enterprise data integration patterns:
Migration means moving data from one system to another system or a newer instance of that system. This is also done when adding a new system that extends your current infrastructure, backing up a dataset, adding nodes to database clusters, replacing database hardware, consolidating systems, etc.
This pattern usually consists of your data source system, a criterion that defines what data needs to be migrated, transformations required on the raw data, a destination system where your data is loaded, and a feature/system to capture the results of the migration to differentiate between the final state vs the desired state.
Following the “one-to-many approach,” the broadcast pattern moves data from one source to multiple destinations in near-real time. For instance, an entry of a new sale in the customer portal has to be updated in near-real time(less than an hour) in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, websites, and inventory data.
Compared to the migration pattern, a broadcast pattern only captures those items whose field values have changed since the last time the broadcast ran. Also, unlike migration, which is effective for handling large volumes of data and processing many records in parallel, broadcast patterns are designed for processing the records quickly and are highly reliable to avoid losing critical data in transit.
You can use the Broadcast pattern for the following scenarios:
- Near-real-time updates in the destination system.
- Reducing manual intervention by automating the data flow.
- The destination system doesn’t need to know what is happening with the source system.
Unlike the migration and broadcast patterns, which flow unidirectionally from a source to a target system, the bi-directional pattern allows data to be shared with both systems. This allows you to use both systems while maintaining a consistent real-time view of the data in both systems. For instance, you can just provide the status of a delivery to a salesperson as they don’t need to know at which warehouse the delivery is going to be. Similarly, the delivery person only needs to know the name of the customer and not how much the customer paid for it. Hence, both of those people can have a real-time view of the same customer through the lens they need.
Just as the bi-directional pattern synchronizes the union of 2 datasets, correlation synchronizes the intersection, i.e., identifies the common item that occurs in both systems naturally and performs a bi-directional update on that.
For instance, a hospital group has two hospitals in the same city. You might like to share data between the two hospitals so if a patient uses either hospital, you will have an up-to-date record of what treatment they received at both locations.
The aggregation pattern is a good choice for merging data from multiple sources to be loaded into a central repository. For example, you might have data in multiple marketing applications. You can merge your data from these sources and feed it to your CRM, which later on can be used by your data analyst to generate combined reports.
That’s it! You have completely deep-dived into how the right data integration architecture can ease the integration process in your firm. Whether merging multiple data sources or updating data in near real-time, you can now easily choose and implement the data integration architecture pattern best for your business use case.
Though, you have to burden your engineering team to build all new custom connections and continuously monitor the data pipelines for any data leaks. This is challenging, especially when they are already overloaded with managing & maintaining your existing custom data pipelines. An effortless, efficient & economical solution to this mess is to opt for automated no-code cloud ETL tools like Hevo Data, which offers 150+ plug-and-play integrations.
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