Optique as a Toolbox for Data Integration

Data integration today is very much like climbing a mountain to get a view from the top. In the case of a mountain, it takes a team of well-trained people, skilled guides and a lot of time and effort. Once the team made it all the way up, though, they will have a great overview, see all the places around and can tell how they are connected. And they can draw a map and enable others to safely travel between places.

In the case of data integration, it takes IT specialists. And a lot of time and effort.

Not surprisingly, the time and effort for setup is known as a major cost factor in data integration.
Yet, having a data integration strategy is crucial today for any kind of business. Plain and simple, integrating information is a preliminary for correlating and analyzing heterogeneous data. It is fundamental for generating business value from all available information.
But with all the tooling developed over time, traditional data integration platforms still offer surprisingly little to reduce the amount of time that it takes to setup the systems and to configure mappings or ETL pipelines.

That’s where Optique steps in. Optique is not only “yet another platform for integrating data”. Optique is also a toolbox of apps to facilitate all aspects of integrating data, to maintain and evolve with minimal effort and to empower end-users to leverage the integration immediately even for highly sophisticated information needs. Optique builds on Information Workbench™ [1] and thus already comes with rich functionality, e.g., for data exploration and visualization. Optique then adds various apps for scalable, virtualized, real-time data integration [2]. But in addition, it also adds apps to significantly reduce the time and effort that it costs to make all this feasible.

Some of those additional apps from the Optique toolbox address the following pain-points in data integration setup and maintenance:

  • Mapping, bootstrapping and alignment: based on bleeding edge research efforts lead by the University of Oxford [3], bootstrapping reduces effort for setup and saves valuable time of IT experts during the process.
  • A graphical mapping and data integration editor developed at fluid Operations facilitates curation and maintenance of mappings by experts.
  • Traditionally, mapping maintenance over changing sources is a black hole that keeps to suck in time and effort. A new Optique app based on recent research from the University of Rome [4] supports mapping evolution with analysis, hints and suggestions.
  • Visual query formulation [5] enables domain experts to phrase their own, complex, analytical queries without any IT knowledge.

There is no magic. Even with Optique, modern data integration is still very much like climbing a mountain. Just that it offers a cable car for a good part of the journey. And when you start drawing your map, it has all the landmarks already sketched out for you. And when you send a team up again to update the map, it has all the issues already marked right on your map.

Otherwise, it’s all still the same, scalable semantic data integration platform.

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Christoph Pinkel, fluidOps

Christoph Pinkel
Employed at fluid Operations as a Research & Development Engineer. Christoph is a work package leader for Integration Infrastructure in Optique.

[1] https://fluidops.com/en/portfolio/information_workbench/
[2] https://appcenter.fluidops.net/resource/AppCenter
[3] https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/isg/tools/BootOX/
[4] https://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1350/paper-33.pdf
[5] https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/files/6284/optique_medes2013.pdf