A Foundation for Self Service

A data fabric is a distributed data architecture that offers business users a single view across remote data. It enables users to query data where ever it lies without having to know the intricacies of how to access that data. It also relieves the IT staff from having to move and transform that data into a data warehouse. This is how a data fabric injects agility into a centralized data architecture. Every company needs a data fabric! (See figure 1.)

In contrast, a data mesh is a distributed business and development architecture. That is, a data mesh pushes all data and development to business domains, and in its purest form, eliminates all central data environments. It’s goal is to break up the data monopoly of IT and empower business units to service their own needs. (See figure 1.) 

Together, a data fabric and data mesh form a substantial part of a self-service analytics strategy. They require organizations to change their architecture, operating model, and governance model to empower business users and domains. This does our industry a great service because most business and data leaders think that the way to implement self-service is to give every user a self-service BI tool. Wrong!

“Together, a data fabric and data mesh form a substantial part of a self-service analytics strategy.”

“Self-service is the culmination of doing everything else right: implementing the right organization, governance, architecture, literacy, etc.”

At Eckerson Group, we tell consulting clients that self-service is the result of doing everything else right. That is, when you implement the right organization, the right architecture, the right governance, the right literacy program, and right development methods, self-service is a natural by product. 

By the way, the right way to do all these things is to federate them across a central data & analytics team and business department teams. So in other words, data mesh and data fabric represent one side of the self-service equation. The other side is a central data & analytics team that facilitates distributes development. (See figure 2.)

“The right way to do things is to federate.”

Figure 1. What are Data Fabric and Data Mesh?


Figure 2. A Self-Service Strategy

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