Data Federation

What is data federation?

Data federation is a technology that enables two or more databases to appear as one, whether they be on-premises or in the cloud.

Teradata with Query Grid, IBM Pure Data Systems with Fluid Query, and SAP HANA with Smart Data Services are some of the products offering data federation capabilities. Visualization vendors such as Tableau and Looker have also started to offer data federation capabilities. Often, people use the terms “data virtualization” and “data federation” interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between the two technologies.

Data Federation

From data federation to data virtualization - a generation gap

Data federation is actually a subset of data virtualization. Data virtualization, as we know it today, started evolving around data federation as the foundational technology, but has since grown in features, functionalities, and applications. Modern data virtualization vendors offer a wide range of important capabilities beyond data federation, including read-and-write access to a wide range of source data systems, the inclusion of a metadata repository, the ability to persist federated queries, data abstraction, and advanced security, governance, and query processing features, all of which were not possible with earlier generation data federation tools.

The benefits of data virtualization over data federation

Data virtualization technology offers many more important features and capabilities than some of the best data federation technologies on the market.

Here are a few important advantages:


Query optimization

While some data federation vendors offer basic query optimization, the Denodo Platform’s Dynamic Query Optimizer, along with parallel in-memory fabric (native integration with MPP engines), data caching, aggregate-aware caching, and advanced query rewrite features, offers unmatched performance and frees the network.

Perform complex transformations

Unlike data federation, data virtualization can pre-compute complex transformations, aggregations, and combinations and materialize them. Materialization can be accomplished on a subset of data, or all data.

Data abstraction

The Denodo Platform decouples source systems from consuming applications, while providing a consistent semantic layer that is meaningful to business users.

Data lineage and data governance

The Denodo Platform offers both IT and business users the ability to perform comprehensive data lineage analysis while offering a centralized access control mechanism for managing enterprise wide data security, compliance, and user privacy.

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