It seems that there is a never ending list of formats that data professionals need to deal with. As I read through posts and articles talking about Integration Services, I’m struck by how many unique solutions people come up with to move data in and out of Excel. They know how to handle multiple worksheets, headers, practically anything that people put into Excel. If there’s a pattern in there, chances are some SSIS worker has a solution.
This week I saw that Facebook had announced a data portability initiative, giving users the ability to download all their Facebook data into one file. The file can include images, movies, posts, events, etc. and gives you a way to not only back up your data, but perhaps use it for other applications. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we have an SSIS package that can load up your information into a SQL Server database. I suspect someone will do it just for the challenge, and not because they have a practical use for it.
Facebook seems to have been under attack constantly from groups that are concerned about the privacy policies and features of a company that has so much data about individuals. However this new feature seems to show that the company isn’t looking to lock you and your data into their own system. You can now backup your data and shut down your account if you with to move on to another service.
Recognizing that data is important to users and allowing some level of portability is a feature that I wish more companies would embrace. I’d love to be able to easily move my medical records, my financial investment history, or even my credit data to my own systems as a backup. Or even as a way to document the current state and perhaps ensure that my data is correct.