Data Virtualization

Definition of Data Virtualization

Data virtualization is a technology approach that allows users to access, manipulate, and retrieve data from multiple, disparate sources without requiring the technical details of data storage or format. It creates an abstract, integrated view of information, making it easy for users to access and analyze data without moving or copying it. This simplifies data management, increases efficiency, and reduces the need for data warehousing, resulting in cost savings and less resource consumption.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Data Virtualization” is:/ˈdeɪ.tə ˌvɜr.tʃu.ə.lɪˈzeɪ.ʃən/In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), it can be written as:Data: /ˈdeɪ.tə/Virtualization: /ˌvɜr.tʃu.ə.lɪˈzeɪ.ʃən/

Key Takeaways

  1. Data Virtualization provides a unified, real-time and consolidated view of data from multiple sources without moving or replicating it.
  2. It accelerates data integration and decision-making processes due to its ability to retrieve and combine relevant data on demand.
  3. Data Virtualization improves data security and governance by allowing for centralized access controls, data masking, and monitoring.

Importance of Data Virtualization

Data Virtualization is important because it enables organizations to integrate and access data from various sources without the need to physically store or replicate it, significantly reducing costs, resources, and time spent on data management.

By creating an abstract layer, data virtualization allows users to view and interact with data in real-time, irrespective of the data’s location or format.

This streamlined approach improves business agility and simplifies data governance, as organizations can easily adapt to changing requirements and implement necessary security measures.

Furthermore, data virtualization fosters better decision-making by allowing organizations to seamlessly combine data analytics and business intelligence, thus gaining a comprehensive understanding of their operations and unlocking valuable insights for growth and innovation.


Data Virtualization serves a crucial purpose in the modern technological era, where handling complex data from various sources has become an integral part of many businesses and organizations. Primarily, its function is to provide a unified, abstracted, and real-time view of a diverse range of data sources without the need to physically store the data in a single location. Data Virtualization enables users to access, manage, and interpret information efficiently and effectively, regardless of the original data storage format or location.

It simplifies and transforms raw data from multiple sources into a more comprehensible and actionable format, making it easier for decision-makers to derive meaningful insights and make informed choices. The applications of Data Virtualization span across many industries and sectors. It is widely used in Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics platforms to create real-time reporting, data visualization, and complex analytics without the need for time-consuming and costly data integration processes.

Companies can now streamline data processing and achieve operational agility, enabling them to react and adapt to the ever-changing market dynamics with ease. Moreover, Data Virtualization plays an essential role in promoting data security and privacy, as it allows businesses to establish a secure layer to access sensitive information while also complying with data protection regulations. Overall, Data Virtualization serves as a driving force for innovation and growth by empowering organizations to harness the full potential of their data, without being burdened by the underlying complexities.

Examples of Data Virtualization

Financial Industry: In the banking and finance sector, data virtualization is used to gain a unified and real-time view of the customers’ account and transaction information. For example, Banco Sabadell, one of Spain’s leading banking groups, uses data virtualization to consolidate data from diverse sources across different banks within their group, enabling faster and more accurate risk analysis, credit scoring, and fraud detection. This helps the bank make more informed decisions and offer tailored services to their customers.

Healthcare Industry: Data virtualization plays a critical role in streamlining patient data and improving patient care. For example, the University of Michigan Health System utilizes data virtualization to integrate relevant data from a wide range of sources, such as electronic health records (EHRs), clinical systems, and data warehouses. This approach enables healthcare professionals to access real-time patient data, improving the efficiency of medical treatments and reducing the chances of duplicate lab tests or medication errors.

Retail and E-commerce Industry: Data virtualization helps retailers and e-commerce businesses better understand their customers’ preferences and habits to improve their shopping experience. A global fashion retailer, Zara, uses data virtualization to collect, integrate, and analyze data from multiple sources like customer feedback, store inventory, and sales transactions. By gaining real-time insights into their customers’ needs, Zara can rapidly adapt their product offerings and supply chain operations to cater to current market demands, reduce shipment delays, and optimize their stock levels in stores.

Data Virtualization FAQ

1. What is Data Virtualization?

Data Virtualization is a data integration technique that allows organizations to access and manipulate data from various sources and formats without moving or copying the data. It creates a unified virtual layer that allows users to access the required data in real-time, providing a more agile and cost-effective solution compared to traditional data warehousing.

2. How does Data Virtualization work?

Data Virtualization works by connecting to different data sources, extracting relevant data, and presenting it in a unified format to the users. This process is done in real-time, allowing users to access and analyze data without the need to physically move or copy it. The virtual layer connects to a variety of sources, such as relational databases, non-relational databases, cloud systems, and big data platforms.

3. What are the benefits of Data Virtualization?

Some of the benefits of Data Virtualization include:

  • Real-time access to data
  • Reduced cost and complexity involved in data management
  • Agility in dealing with data from various sources and formats
  • Easier compliance with data regulations and security
  • Improved collaboration and data sharing among different departments

4. What are some use cases of Data Virtualization?

Data Virtualization can be used in various scenarios, including:

  • Data integration from multiple sources
  • Real-time analytics and reporting
  • Data migration and consolidation
  • Master Data Management (MDM)
  • Enterprise data sharing and collaboration

5. How does Data Virtualization differ from Data Warehousing?

While both Data Virtualization and Data Warehousing aim to provide a unified view of an organization’s data, they use different approaches. Data Warehousing involves physically moving and storing data in a central repository, while Data Virtualization creates a virtual layer for real-time access, without physically moving the data. Data Warehousing typically involves a longer implementation process and higher upfront costs, while Data Virtualization allows for more agility and cost-effectiveness.

Related Technology Terms

  • Data Integration
  • Data Federation
  • Metadata Management
  • Data Abstraction
  • Data Transformation

Sources for More Information


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