Data Synchronization Overview

The continued growth of data has created a highly fragmented enterprise. As companies continue to use detached systems, they often end up missing out on critical details that could help drive more innovative strategies. The key to innovation and agility is synchronization. This process helps keep info accurate and consistent throughout each of these systems. This overview discusses data synchronization, why it is important and how to accomplish it for your organization.

What is Data Synchronization?

The goal of data synchronization is to ensure that all data within each system is consistent. It is a continuous process that applies to existing and new data. Harmonizing data over time is a complex process that requires tools capable of seamlessly handling the process.

Companies typically have heterogeneous environments composed of many systems. Each of these systems has its own mapping and structures. When data is not in sync, there is a risk of inconsistent and out-of-date information spreading through the company. Cleaning the data once dispersed can be time-consuming and costly.

Benefits of Data Synchronization

Synchronization is critical to organizations for a variety of reasons. It's necessary to meet governance requirements and to inform and help drive business strategy. 

Meets Security and Governance Requirements

Security and confidentiality of data are important for companies that must follow strict compliance guidelines such as GDPR, HIPAA, or the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. Each system within an organization may have different policies and security requirements. A synchronization tool helps ensure your business meets all governance requirements.

Ensures Data Quality

Information often exists in multiple systems, and each system may have a different structure. All sources must coordinate updates and validation. This is to ensure the integrity of the data within a secure environment. Regular synchronization continually improves the value of your information by making it more useful for your business.

Provides Real-Time Insights

Meeting customer demand requires real-time insights to inform business strategy and decision-making. Synchronization gives leaders up-to-date info to use for identifying opportunities that will drive revenue.

Solves Information Complexity Issues

Legacy systems are still very much in use by organizations. There is a wealth of information that can be hard to access within these systems. Synchronizing information between legacy systems and modern systems allows companies to enrich their data warehouse with additional details.

Data Synchronization vs. Integration

While the two may seem the same, data synchronization and integration are two different concepts. Integration combines two or more applications to work in tandem. Synchronization, however, is a type of integration focused on keeping details consistent between data sources.

Data Synchronization vs. Push

A push is when system A sends information to system B as soon as the data materialize. So as soon as system A has new data, app B will automatically receive the updated information. Synchronization, however, works both ways. This means system A can send information to system B and System B can send information to System A.

Data Synchronization vs. Replication

Replication occurs when you store a complete copy of a database in two locations. The goal is usually to prevent information loss and improve the availability of the details. Synchronization only focuses on a subset of details, specifically the details that have changed. Also, replication works in one direction, while synchronization is bidirectional.

Real-Time Data Synchronization Using ETL

Managing synchronization across systems can be a daunting task. Without the right tools in place, information disparities will take over and render the data less useful to an organization. The process of extract, transform and load (ETL) helps synchronize statistics between two or more systems. It happens continuously and without intervention.

Extract

During extraction, source systems export information to a staging area. These sources include:

  • Databases
  • CRM Systems
  • ERP Systems
  • Email
  • Text Files
  • Cloud Systems
  • RSS Feeds

The extract process can collect both structured and semi-structured data. Initiating this process can happen via a variety of methods:

Push Notification — With this approach, once the source system updates, it sends a notification that there is new information to retrieve.

Incremental/Full Extract — In cases where a system cannot provide notification, the ETL tool will need to communicate with it to determine which records received an update. Once the ETL tool identifies the correct records, it then performs an incremental or full extract of the data.

Transform

Filtering, cleansing, de-duplicating, validating, and authenticating the data all take place during the transform stage. Additional tasks include performing calculations, translations, or summarization. The process can also handle removing, encrypting, or protecting information governed by industry or governmental regulations. The transformation happens via one of two techniques:

Multistage — With this method, the ETL tool moves the data to a staging area for transformation prior to loading it to the destination.

In-Warehouse Transformation — This technique involves moving the information directly into the data warehouse and performing transformations there. In this case, the process is extract, load, and transform (ELT). The ELT approach is ideal when ingestion speed is the top priority.

Because ELT does not need to wait on staging, companies can access the raw data immediately before the transformation. The benefit of this is for data analysts who prefer to see all the raw data — business users typically prefer to review the transformed information.

Load

In this last step, the transformed data move from the staging area into a target warehouse. This involves the initial loading and the periodic loading of incremental changes.

How Integrate.io Can Help

Integrate.io is an all-inclusive tool for synchronizing information between disparate systems. The platform features hundreds of pre-built integrations that empower companies with the data they need to perform complex analytics and inform business strategy. 

Integrate.io takes the stress out of synchronizing data between systems. Any stakeholder within the organization, regardless of technical ability, can quickly and easily sync the information they need. Take a 14-day custom tour of the tool to explore these features for yourself.

Glossary of Terms

A guide to the nomenclature of data integration technology.