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Software // Information Management
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4/23/2007
04:07 PM
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Put to the Test: Oracle Data Integrator

Oracle has upgraded the Sunopsis ETL technology it acquired last fall to address master data management and SOA needs as well as data warehousing and data migration. It's not an easy tool to master, but it's a powerful and versatile choice if you're willing to invest in training.

PROS
• Lets you reverse-engineer data structures and work at a "business rules" level of abstraction so you can create projects quickly.
• Architecture moves data directly from source servers to a target server, using each server's native technology.
• Graphical UIs and object cross-referencing help new users quickly pick up projects where others left off.
CONS
• As with any big tool, truly mastering ODI may take months.
• The documentation, while useful, won't take you all the way. Expect to invest in training.

Last October, Oracle purchased Sunopsis and its Active Integration Platform (AIP) product, which included the subset of functionality also sold as Data Conductor. In February, Oracle released its first enhanced version of this ETL-oriented product with advanced application integration features. The product has been rebranded and reversioned to be consistent with Oracle's data management product line.

Now known as Oracle Data Integrator v 10.1.3 (ODI), the product maintains the architecture and functionality of Sunopsis AIP, with some significant enhancements – most notably, a big improvement in the ability to integrate with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) applications. ODI automates information exchange between applications, and Oracle promotes the product in four key areas:

  • Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
  • Service-Oriented Architecture
  • Master Data Management (MDM)
  • Migration

After working with ODI in a test environment and speaking with large users of the last Sunopsis release, I've come to the conclusion that ODI serves all four needs well, with an architecture that is elegantly simple and has minimal hardware requirements. ODI's structure and tools make it relatively easy to manage, particularly where people from different parts of the organization may play a part in the overall project.

Two features are worth mentioning up front. First, ODI takes a business rules approach to data transformation. You define data structures and transformation rules, and ODI generates the necessary code, appropriate to the source and destination data technologies. Second, ODI does not require an intermediate server – data is moved directly between the source and destination servers. This eliminates a network hop for data and allows the native database technology of a source or destination server to perform necessary data transformations.

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