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11/22/2006
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Dashboard: Data Integration Is a Moving Target

Data integration is integral to emerging service-oriented architectures, so it's doubtful that the technology's evolution is complete.

Brad Manning has data integration in mind. Recently appointed CIO of Quaker Chemicals, Manning oversees data centers on four continents. Multiple data warehouses support some 800 different subject-area views. Manning knows that getting the right data into the right hands at the right time isn't trivial, so he and other CIOs have been closely watching the many recent developments in data integration.

Extract, transform and load (ETL) used to be the beginning and end of the tools market. Ascential Software and Informatica were the two biggest dogs. Now, Ascential's ETL tools are part of IBM's growing portfolio of information integration solutions that span metadata management (Unicorn), product data integration (Trigo) and customer data integration (DWL). Informatica, meanwhile, has built out its capabilities through acquisitions and partnerships. Agreements with the likes of Composite Software (for enterprise information integration) and webMethods (business integration) have made Informatica relevant for far more than traditional ETL.

"The whole scope of data warehousing is changing," says Michael Corcoran, chief communications officer at Information Builders (IBI). IBI's subsidiary, iWay Software, has updated its DataMigrator and Service Manager products so that customers can move beyond conventional ETL and static data to establish unified data architecture workable for a variety of integration scenarios. "Timeliness is the big issue," Corcoran notes. Instead of batch ETL going away, Corcoran sees some iWay customers addressing latency by doing batch jobs multiple times a day.

Data integration is integral to emerging service-oriented architectures, so it's doubtful that the technology's evolution is complete. Manning says Quaker Chemical is content to stay with SAS as its primary data solutions vendor. However, as demands for data presentation and timeliness accelerate in 2007, organizations will seek new solutions for strategic information integration. --Rajan Chandras

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