Having real-time access to relevant data helps organizations optimize their productivity and strengthen their competitive positioning. Easy access to data drives such outcomes by promoting collaboration and enabling teams to effectively use the information they collect. Compiling such massive amounts of information creates data management challenges that organizations have to find a way around, however.
Data fabrics and data mesh are two common solutions to this problem. What’s the difference between the two approaches? And which is right for your organization? Let’s dig in.
Data Mesh Vs. Data Fabric: What’s the Difference?
- In a data mesh approach, rather than depending on a centralized platform, an enterprise has access to numerous repositories. Each of these is devoted to a particular business domain or department. A data mesh structure works with data lakes, data warehouses and other conventional methods of data storage.
- A data fabric approach is more automated than data mesh. It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning instead of depending on data experts. A data fabric approach has the advantage of allowing analysis of data access and use across the enterprise. By using a data fabric architecture, businesses can analyze information more comprehensively, producing in-depth insights that can help leaders make decisions and seize new opportunities for growth.
What Is a Data Mesh Architecture?
Data mesh architecture is a decentralization strategy, meaning data is organized by a specific business domain, with the aim of achieving coherence among multiple business areas. This is mainly a human-directed process that involves subject matter experts in data who tag information, build rules and identify who the contributors are. These are the people who work on the data team, and they use their expertise to create the right fields that connect to the business processes. The goal is to try to improve everyone’s understanding of how to consume data at a business level or how to figure out what’s occurring inside your data that may be affecting your business.
In a data mesh approach, rather than depending on a centralized platform, an enterprise has access to numerous repositories. Each of these is devoted to a particular business domain or department, such as procurement. Data meshes aid in the shift to cloud-native environments as well. That’s because, when you have a better handle on the data that’s running your business, you can understand the context of what needs to be migrated or what might need to be consolidated in a move to the cloud. The data mesh framework may also be easily scaled by businesses as their data management requirements change.
A data mesh structure works with data lakes, data warehouses and other conventional methods of data storage. The advantages of data mesh architectures include better access control and information governance (these apply directly to areas like compliance and regulation). They also get rid of a lot of information bottlenecks, which are typical when businesses manage their data with outdated, centralized methods.
The advantages of data mesh designs are attractive to large businesses that handle extremely complex data sets. One reason for this is that large enterprises typically have people in roles and responsibilities that are responsible for major master data objects. For these enterprises, their business processes are highly reliant on that data being right. A data mesh works well here.
Yet, for smaller firms processing less complicated data, there may be more practical choices outside of the data mesh approach.
What Is a Data Fabric Architecture?
Unlike data mesh, data fabric is intended to support the end-to-end integration of diverse data pipelines. Such pipelines are a method in which raw data is ingested from various data sources and then moved to a data store, such as a data warehouse. This kind of architecture enables integrations through the use of automated systems and cutting-edge intelligence technologies such as data quality, master data management, metadata management and AI/ML tools.
Data stewards can unify many applications and systems using a data fabric approach. Integrating different data sources improves information accessibility, fosters greater security and enables businesses to better protect consumers.
A data fabric approach also has the advantage of allowing analysis of data access and use across the enterprise. Suggestions based on usage patterns, rule implementations and availability of curated data sets can shorten the time required for discovery of the specific data a team member is seeking. The intelligence sitting behind a data mesh can highlight areas of weakness in metadata, prompting business users for input or suggesting other data assets that may be relevant to a user.
Enterprises can do away with data silos, get rid of information logjams, improve data accessibility, and encourage departmental or team collaboration by implementing a data fabric architecture.
By using a data fabric architecture, businesses can analyze information more comprehensively, producing in-depth insights that can help leaders make decisions and seize new opportunities for growth.
Which Approach Is Best for Your Organization?
More companies are likely to start adopting the data fabric approach. Without moving toward an automation strategy, they won’t be able to keep up or be able to realize the full potential value of their systems and data. What’s more, with the advent of generative AI platforms, businesses can achieve significant acceleration in deploying such solutions, shortening the time required to build a truly adaptive, intelligent data fabric architecture.
That said, there are some situations where a data mesh might be a better fit for your organization. The time and expertise required to build a data mesh is lower. You can start achieving value quickly by implementing a data mesh architecture and set your organization up to be able to add new generative AI technologies that can extend functionality towards a full data fabric implementation.
Choosing which way to go also depends on your resource availability, the expertise of your staff and the data management products already in use. Defining your business case and expected outcomes will allow you to pick the right approach and define a clear path toward implementation. In other words, establish your key performance indicators and decide what you’re trying to achieve first, and then evaluate which approach will work best for your organization.
Master Your Data
IBM has estimated that the yearly cost of poor-quality data in the U.S. exceeds $3 trillion. Organizations need an agile, robust data management architecture to overcome the potential hurdles posed by the massive amount of information being consumed and created today. This will enable them to unlock the valuable business insights hidden within all that information. Data fabric and data mesh are two popular approaches, each with its own set of benefits. Which one you choose will depend on your data maturity, budget, business benefits and needs of your organization.