Data Virtualization Roundtable Recap

INDUSTRY - Oil and Gas, SOLUTION - Analytics, SOLUTION - Information Management

A great, informative time was had by all during the June 5th “Industry Roundtable on Data Virtualization” at Top Golf in West Houston. Attending from nine companies across the energy industry were privately invited representatives from APG&E, BP, Baker Hughes, Koch Supply & Trading, Newfield Exploration, OFS Portal, Parsons, StatOil, and TGS.

Most have heard about data virtualization (DV), but they may not know how to approach it. There is a lot of uncertainty about how the investment will add value. In an effort to dispel some of the mystery around DV, Noah Consulting hosted an industry roundtable. We asked Stuart Bonnington, Enterprise architect for Big Data and Analytics at BP and contributor to Data Virtualization: Going Beyond Traditional Data Integration to Achieve Business Agility, to be the keynote speaker and provide a look into how BP's innovative architecture is fueled by virtualization.

Following the keynote address, John Ruddy, president of Noah Consulting, shared some exemplary use cases for virtualization at a large independent oil and gas producer and a major marketing/trading company. Then, a facilitated discussion provided a forum to address thought leaders’ concerns and fostered an open environment for discussion about how DV is being considered or utilized across the participating companies.

Here is a recap of what was covered.

Data Virtualization (DV) is a relatively new data management technique that makes available information across disparate systems for dashboards and reporting without physically moving the data into data warehouse environments. It is best suited for highly structured data, like Historian, to semi-structured SQL-type data with the ability to extend into multi-structured data using complimentary tools such as Hadoop.

During the whiteboard demonstration illustrating the DV solution at BP, attendees saw the progression of one very effective, potentially the most sophisticated global DV implementation. Stuart Bonnington shared the original goals of the project ─ from concept to implementation ─ along with the practices and lessons learned throughout their journey. Today, the company has a very mature and robust solution that handles over 50,000 queries daily. As you can imagine, that volume would be very taxing on any solution. Stuart shared how BP reduced the latency, including reducing some requests from six weeks to five seconds, with a number of custom processes that allow the speed to meet the demand. He talked about how proper planning, naming conventions, tool selection, change management, and prioritization all played a big role in the success of the data virtualization solution at BP.

One attendee asked what Stuart would have done differently when launching virtualization for integration. Without hesitation, he noted that he would have done a better job of adamantly conveying the benefits because good news travels fast when things work.

Following the presentations by Stuart Bonnington and John Ruddy, Stewart Nelson, a director for Noah Consulting, led a discussion in a small, intimate setting that helped foster a lively discussion that revealed:

• how to generate buy-in and make the value case for virtualization to the c-suite;
• reasons for leveraging virtualization in tandem with current data integration processes;
• the need to determine readiness for virtualization;
• DV’s uses for structured vs unstructured data;
• the need for quicker access to data and how DV can help;
• which business process the solution can enable; and
• virtualization’s role in aiding with regulatory compliance.

Perhaps the largest, resounding concern discussed was whether or not data virtualization will add to the omnipresent ‘chaos’ of shifting from other BI approaches. The answer ─ data virtualization can either bring order to the chaos or cause more confusion for the business. The keys to a successful DV deployment that silences ‘chaos’ are:

• garnering executive support;
• scalability – starting focused and expanding; and
• identifying critical data to show value quickly.

The discussion was the perfect platform to share best practices, assess needs based on use cases, and listen to first-hand accounts of how thought leaders overcame similar challenges. Overall, Noah Consulting’s objective to facilitate the exchange of knowledge was met, and everyone noted the networking was valuable.

If you are interested in attending a roundtable in the future, please contact Amber Charboneau (, or visit our website to submit a “contact us” message.

More Questions
If you would like to discuss how DV can help reach your data integration goals, let Scott Hardin ( know so we can have one of our architects talk with you and your team.