Data fabric: An Eckerson group report

The Next Step in the Evolution of Data Architecture (January 2023) provides a comprehensive look into how data fabric extends the data architecture evolution. Key areas covered in the report include: defining data fabric, potential benefits vs pitfalls, application functionality, AI/ML & data abstraction.

Cover of Eckerson Group Data Fabric Report

Executive Summary

Over the years, organizations have tried many architectural approaches to deliver consistent, unified views of enterprise data to support analytics and other business needs. However, rapid changes brought on by e-commerce, social media, cloud computing, and an explosion in user demand have created new data challenges that previous approaches are not designed to handle.

In the 1990s, data warehousing emerged as the dominant architecture to consolidate enterprise data into a dimensionally-modeled, centralized repository for structured data to support business intelligence requirements. In the 2010s, data lakes emerged to centralize any type of data, not just structured, into a single repository adaptable enough for new uses in data science. But their extreme flexibility led to data quality issues and duplication of analytical effort.

More recently, the data fabric has emerged to provide a unified view of disparate and distributed data and to support any type of workload, from business intelligence to ad hoc analytics to data science. Data fabric uses metadata and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to automate data management functions such as onboarding new data sources and managing metadata. It also simplifies combining data of different types and from different locations to provide seamless access to enterprise data.

About eckerson group

Eckerson Group is a global research and consulting firm that helps organizations get more value from data. Eckerson’s experts think critically, write clearly, and present persuasively about data analytics. They specialize in data strategy, data architecture, self-service analytics, master data management, data governance, and data science. Organizations rely on Eckerson to demystify data and analytics and develop business-driven strategies that harness the power of data.


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Data fabric uses metadata, machine learning, and automation to weave together data of any format in any location and make it easy to find and use by people or systems.

Jay Piscioneri

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Cover of Eckerson Group Data Fabric Report