Data Sharing and the “Internet of Databases”

The rise of personal computing in the 1980s and 90s led to a boom in business productivity that was transformative in its scope. Suddenly businesses had the power of what were formerly room-size computers on their desktops. This period saw the rise of the “knowledge worker” and the digitization of business.

But it was the impact of the internet that really drove business to the next level. All of those isolated desktop computers were now connected via a world wide web to enable communication, marketing and commerce without barriers. An open exchange of innovation and ideas fostered rapid growth, collaboration, and the global marketplace. The internet boom was really the first instance of “digital transformation” affecting all types of business and industries.

In recent years we’ve seen a new kind of digital transformation driven by cloud services and big data. Massive, highly volatile data sets can be hosted in cloud data centers and analyzed with instant scalability and low latency. The challenges of defining and managing that data continue to persist, but with the advent of cloud data warehouses such as Snowflake and cloud data catalogs like Alation, organizations are now better equipped to govern and utilize their data in an effective and meaningful way.

However, most organizations still live in a “silo” when it comes to data ownership and custody. Much like the pre-internet days of business computing, companies tend to view their data in isolation. But the value of a dataset can be enhanced when integrated with outside sources; performance benchmarks, third-party marketing data, etc. For years this was only possible through cumbersome file exchange processes like FTP. But thanks to cloud services we now have a new mechanism for breaking down data siloes between organizations: data sharing, or the data exchange platform.

Over the next several years we anticipate rapid growth of data exchanges as organizations continue to embrace cloud-based data platforms. Data no longer needs to be shared as “files”; rather, “live” secure connections directly to the hosted data are established, enabling the shared data to be processed and analyzed in conjunction with a user’s own data sets. Snowflake’s own Data Marketplace is exemplary of this approach: with just a few clicks, a variety of shared data can be seamlessly incorporated into a Snowflake user’s own data environment. With this innovation, organizations now have instant access to valuable third-party insights on demographics, marketing, population health, commerce and trade, etc.

Like the rise of the internet and its impact on the economy, so too will data exchanges transform how businesses derive value from the vast landscape of available global data. This will require a shift in thinking to a data-sharing culture, which must be part of an organization’s data governance initiative. This combination of cloud technology and cultural rethinking will help foster the growing “internet of databases”.

About the Author:

JOE CAPARULA is a Senior Consultant with Pandata Group who specializes in delivering data architecture and data integration services for clients across several industries.