Software // Information Management
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8/13/2009
09:31 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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The Mystery of the Missing Technology

The door burst open and the client rushed in, pale and delirious. "Mr. Holmes, the worst thing has happened -- EII has vanished!" "Come, come," smiled Holmes, as he put his finger tips together. "Enterprise Information Integration is too valuable to go away. Here, sit down and let us analyze the situation..."

The door burst open and the client rushed in, pale and delirious. "Mr. Holmes, the worst thing has happened -- EII has vanished!" "Come, come," smiled Holmes, as he put his finger tips together. "Enterprise Information Integration is too valuable to go away. Here, sit down and let us analyze the situation."

The client rocked back and forth, and put his head between his hands. "Nimble, Avaki, MetaMatrix -- gone, all gone!" he moaned. "I tell you, Mr. Holmes -- it's a conspiracy. They're after us all!"Holmes winked at me at the client's histrionics, and then put on a grave face. "Surely it is too early to tell," he said. "Let us first look at all the facts -- it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data."

"Nimble, for example," Holmes' eyes twinkled, "proved equal to the name. Nimbly it merged into Actuate in 2003 -- an astute move on the part of Actuate, if I may add, since it gave them an early advantage in XML-based real-time data integration technology for reporting. Not a bad deal for Nimble either, as it prevented them from doing the solitary slog, which so often results in ignominious failure".

"Now then, let us come to Avaki."

"A curious case, Holmes", I eagerly intercepted, anxious to show that I too was in the game. "Sybase acquired Avaki in 2005 with gusto, touting it, if I remember right", I said importantly, "as another key milestone in the investment strategy around their information management solutions portfolio. Yet -- as few as four years later -- they have announced that they will no longer offer Avaki, going so far as to state that there are no Sybase licensed products that can fulfill the features of the Avaki products to provide a valid migration path. A rather sad ending to a promising tale, I must say."

I sat back in happy satisfaction as the client turned his gaze on me, evidently impressed with my extensive grasp of the topic.

There was a trace of impatience in Holmes' voice. "True, Watson" he spoke wearily, "but let us not forget that the end of Avaki as a product does not imply the end of data federation capabilities in Sybase. My sources tell me that Sybase no longer believes in EII as a stand-alone product -- an interesting position, indeed."

"But MetaMatrix, Mr. Holmes? MetaMatrix?" The client moved closer to the edge of the seat.

Holmes frowned -- perhaps in concentration, perhaps at the strident note in the client's voice. "Yes, MetaMatrix. Unless I'm very much mistaken, MetaMatrix was acquired by Red Hat some two years ago -- perhaps Watson may care to look up the reference," he added with a careless gesture. "Whereas Actuate was looking to shore up its strength in reporting and Sybase was looking for a more complete integration engine for its Sybase IQ offering, Red Hat had a different objective -- to 'decouple applications from their data sources and make valuable data assets available as services in an SOA, freeing data from single application silos.' Very glib, I might add," Holmes said with a twisted smile, "yet no less true on that account."

"But," the client expostulated, "these are all different reasons for acquiring EII, Mr. Holmes. There is no pattern!"

"No pattern? Ah," smiled Holmes gently, "therein lays the pattern. EII is a foundational technology, a variety of glue if you will, not unlike the deservingly celebrated cement, which you may use to construct a wretched block of tenements, an austere fire station, or a merry bridge over a lively stream. EII is a highway, my dear sir, not a destination. You may construct it from sand or from tar, and it may take you somewhere or nowhere; it is merely a road. In fact, I have written a little monograph on EII that you may find instructive."

"A monograph that grew so popular that it now appears on the very first page of a Google search on EII," I added loyally.

Patiently, Holmes continued. "Whether you are looking to put together a master data management program, or supply real-time data to your business intelligence solution, or provide virtualized data access to your Web application, or generally empower your SOA with improved data integration capabilities -- a good EII solution will surely find a way to help you. Furthermore, EII is not a specific tool or even a specific technology -- you may construct your own EII solution, as keen technologists have been doing for decades."

"And as for the future," Holmes proceeded, waving a hand to silence the client, "a farthing will get you a penny that we haven't seen the end of this tale: EII technologies will continue to be created, develop into different flavors... and sometimes merge into other technologies and solutions. It is true that Oracle already has the Data Service Integrator and IBM the Information Integrator, but there is a legion of companies out there that can benefit from having strong in-house capabilities in EII. Why, look at Attunity and Composite -- they have survived gamely thus far, but who knows what their future holds? Perhaps they too will end up being acquired and resting in the innards of a more comprehensive facilitator of data or integration architectures. I will be watching their cases with interest."

Holmes turned gently to the client. "But perhaps it's time to give it a rest -- you do look a little pale, Mr. Ipedo."The door burst open and the client rushed in, pale and delirious. "Mr. Holmes, the worst thing has happened -- EII has vanished!" "Come, come," smiled Holmes, as he put his finger tips together. "Enterprise Information Integration is too valuable to go away. Here, sit down and let us analyze the situation..."

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