Back when I re-launched our MDM practice at Capgemini I wrote a paper called ‘Mastering the Information Ocean‘ which talked about the challenges of taking control of master information. Now when we created the Business Data Lake we deliberately used the phrase ‘Lake’ rather than ‘Ocean’ and that was deliberate for two reasons. The first is the reality that there will not be a single BDL for the entire world that is seamlessly integrated across the world. Each organisation will have at least one Business Data Lake and many will have more based on acquisition, geographical spread or local politics but a greater challenge is that each organization has information and it is often the connection between organizations which represents both the future opportunity and challenge. This is where MDM helps again but is beyond what you could hope to do in a single data substrate, organizations rarely if ever have that sort of collaboration even on highly integrated supply chains as each organization has their own private data. Its this combination and collaboration of information between the disparate lakes that really represents the Information Ocean and is where future developments in the BDL around federated analytics will help.
The second is a question of bounds, an Ocean is something on a beyond human scale. What I mean by that is that while the great lakes can often seem to be massive and unmanageable they are still something that a person in a reasonably short period of time could completely traverse and where people on either side are a manageable distance. An ocean however is the home of separation between areas, we talk of people being ‘Oceans apart’ when they cannot agree. Oceans are in fact clear markers of international and indeed continental boundaries, they mark the separation between rather than being a shared resource for a country. Sure sometimes a Lake can have a border running through it, but I’m not sure of a case where a Lake is the whole border. Lakes are manageable, we can in fact create lakes ourselves, reservoirs, as well as leveraging natural lakes and bending them to our will.
Lake therefore fits what the BDL is about, its about providing a human manageable infrastructure for information, its information on the human scale and at the business scale. The decision not to chose the phrase ocean was deliberate, the ocean is where organizations have to collaborate around information and where the challenges are greater and therefore the navigation becomes more limited and pointed. The Business Data Lake operates at the scale where an organization can bend information to deliver insight at the point of action.