Slowing going in one area doesn’t impact the other

It is interesting how the concepts of “data” and “virtualization” are attached to many different ideas. Unfortunately, when they collide, it doesn’t mean what some people think it does. In the enterprise software space, there are concepts of “virtualizing” data storage and “virtualizing” data access.

“Data virtualization” can be about data storage and making the movement and migration of data files available for retrieval. This type of virtualization encapsulates and automates the physical movement of data across on-premises and cloud-based resources to “virtualize” where the data is located. This eases the burden on organizations in terms of when and how to copy, replicate, and/or migrate data files.

“Data virtualization” can also be about access to and delivery of data stored in relational databases or data management frameworks such as Hadoop or NoSQL. This type of virtualization condenses the complexity of accessing disparate data sources and makes them available via a common access layer without the physical movement of the data. Often times, this query access layer includes SQL for tools such as dashboards, or an API interface for programmatic applications such as mobile apps or webpages.

Recently, a firm in the first category of “data virtualization” appears to have burned through their venture capital and may be on the brink of closing up shop. However, in the news coverage, multiple sources conflated the concepts of data (storage) virtualization with data (access) virtualization and muddied the waters about the viability of the second. Data storage has become a commodity business dominated by firms such Dell-EMC, IBM, NetApp, and HDS. Data access is a different business with a different competitive landscape. Firms likes TIBCO, Denodo, Informatica, and Rocket Software are empowering organizations to access their data via query or API to speed the implementation of operational and analytical use cases, and play in a completely different space than data (storage) virtualization.

It is unfortunate that one of the data (storage) virtualization players may be on the way out of the marketplace. However, organizations looking for data (access) virtualization should feel confident in their evaluation and/or investment for their data integration requirements. Just because a storage player is running out of investment runway doesn’t mean that the data access and integration players are in danger as well.