Most enterprises keep order information in one system, customer data in another and inventory numbers in a third. To give users one view of all this data, you'd need a system to connect all three sources and knit the data together.
Yeah, we got that. It's called enterprise information integration, and its promise is tantalizing. The downsides are, predictably, complexity and cost. But considering the resources now spent on federating data--Meta Group estimates that IT organizations devote as much as 60 percent of their budgets to application integration--we think it's worth investigating. We asked Cincom Systems, Composite Software, IBM, Ipedo, MetaMatrix, Snapbridge Software and XAware to standardize access to some disparate data sources we have in our NWC Inc. business-applications lab. It took some time to get data flowing smoothly, but once we did, Composite's CIS rode the crest of the wave to the finish line. IBM's DB2 Information Integrator 8.1 was just behind, next to MetaMatrix's submission.