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Federated databases and how they can enhance collaboration

By Contributor
Thu 28 Jul 2022

Article by BitTitan director of Asia Pacific Brad Rosairo.

The word 'federation' may bring to mind a governmental body, which is a fitting metaphor for understanding the concept of data federation.

Australia is a federation of six states which, together with two self-governing territories, have their own constitutions, parliaments, governments and laws. Star Trek's fictional Starfleet Command is part of the United Federation of Planets – a vast interstellar alliance of sovereign planets. These examples help illustrate data federation, which is a kind of governing mechanism for joining disparate databases.

A federated database maps multiple autonomous database systems into a single interconnected computer network, allowing them to function as one. Creating a federated database is an alternative to merging several databases. It can often be set up quickly with no actual data being integrated. In addition, all the data from various sources can be converted to a standard model, providing a single source for front-end applications. Data federation removes many of the problems associated with raw data, saving businesses time and money. For example, instead of making copies of the same data, data federation can collect and convert data from multiple sources into a single format, eliminating the need for another storage system.

It's all about collaboration. Like the variety of lifeforms (human, Vulcan, and otherwise) who've come together in Starfleet to explore strange new worlds, today's Earthlings often need better ways to collaborate and share data. For example, in the case of a company merger or acquisition, it may be necessary to interconnect sections of different tenants without going forward with full integration.

Tools are available to combine multiple servers and databases into a federated database. But Microsoft makes it easy to accomplish inter-tenant collaboration if users on multiple tenants need to see each other's calendars, work on the same team, or share specific files. Let's look at some of the possibilities:

Sharing Calendars

It's often beneficial for different teams to be able to share calendars even when they're in separate organisations. On Microsoft 365, administrators can set up different levels of calendar access in Exchange Online and let users share free/busy information with others, making it more convenient to plan meetings or assignments.

Access SharePoint or OneDrive

Microsoft 365 makes sharing sites and documents easy to do on separate tenants, even with external users. Administrators configure sharing at the tenant or site collection level for Microsoft account authenticated, work or school account authenticated or guest accounts.

Collaborate in Teams

Teams administrators can allow Teams collaboration with users external to the organisation. A user admin or global admin for the Microsoft 365 tenant initiates an invitation to collaborate. Global admins and team owners can invite anyone with an email address to join. Admins can also manage and edit guests already present in the tenant.

Companies like BitTitan have tools such as MigrationWiz that make it easy to combine tenants in the case of a merger or acquisition. However, there are times when an organisation isn't ready for a full migration but still needs to collaborate.

That's when it pays to use Microsoft 365 with tools that allow admins to set up a federated database and streamline collaboration across tenants.

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