For many carriers, data integration has been a holy grail for years, and there are many successful outcomes to show for all the work that's gone into it. But it can also be clunky and time-consuming. Now, emerging strategies such as virtualization, cloud- and service-oriented architectures promise to take things to a whole new level.

That's the gist of Judith Davis and Robert Eve's latest book, "Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility." While integration has been about cobbling production systems together to deliver point-to-point solutions, “data virtualization” is a way to pull data from various sources into an abstracted service layer, removed from the live databases. This helps cut down the need for physical storage, and provides a common interface for all applications using the data, especially BI, analytics and transaction systems.

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