Which isn't to say the vendors are perfect. Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for data integration tools, released late last month, found that the biggest problem faced by IBM andInformatica customers was high costs.
"The challenges they present to customers regarding costs -- high price points and sophisticated products -- perpetuate the substantial gap in their ability to execute relative to 'perfect," Gartner said.
While having weaker offerings than IBM and Informatica, other vendors in the "leaders quadrant included Oracle and SAP BusinessObjects, which Gartner identified as being at "an early stage in the evolution of their technology toward the concept of a comprehensive, well-integrated data integrationtoolset spanning a range of data delivery styles."
In the upper area of the visionaries quadrant were iWay Software, Pervasive Software and SAS/DataFlux, which Gartner said were still building brand awareness. Nevertheless, the three vendors, along with Oracle and SAP BusinessObjects, were in a position to capture market share in time.
"This group of vendors is well positioned to capture substantial market demand as their product capabilities and marketing approaches mature, but also because they can leverage their brand recognition in wider data management areas," Gartner said.
The remaining vendors in Gartner's rankings were mostly in the niche players quadrant, reflecting narrow functionality, a very nascent or declining brand recognition, or an inability to keep pace with evolving buyer demands for other functionality, such as richermetadata management and synergy with data quality capabilities, the researcher said. Those vendors included Syncsort, Pitney Bowes Business Insight, ETI and Open Text.
For the first time, Gartner included in its data-integration Magic Quadrant a vendor offering open-source versions of its tools. Unlike in the past, Talend was unique among such vendors by delivering the necessary product capabilities and also reaching a level of adoption high enough to make theresearcher's rankings.
In general, however, it remained to be seen whether vendors offering open-source versions of tools, along with alternative pricing and licensing models and community-based development, would become as strong in the market as vendors offering commercially licensed software and tightly vendor-controlled product development.
While Talend was added to Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant, two other vendors -- Sun Microsystems and Tibco -- were dropped. Sun was removed due to a shift away from data integration and a lack of demonstrated market adoption of bulk/batch-oriented data delivery functionality,Gartner said. Tibco , on the other hand was dropped because it ceased to offer data integration technology packaged specifically for bulk/batch data delivery, such as extract, transform and load (ETL).
The following is a thumbnail of Gartner's pros and cons of the four vendors listed as leaders in the Magic Quadrant:
-- IBM's customer references reflect more multi-project use of its data-integration tools and larger average numbers of integration developers per customer than most of its competitors. The vendor continues to increase the level of integration between its range ofInfoSphere Information Server components and significant adoption of the 8.x version of the product. On the downside, IBM tools have a long-standing reputation for complexity, which translates into longer implementation times than that of other market leaders.
-- Informatica is the most recognized data-integration tools brand and delivers high-quality product releases, well-aligned with current market demand and evolving trends. Nevertheless, the company's customer base shows deployment architectures heavily centered onbuilk, batch-oriented data delivery. This could be a disadvantage relative to competitors if the growth in virtualized and federated approaches continue. In addition, customers are concerned with the vendor's high prices, given the state of IT budgets and software pricing trends.
-- Oracle's product line is increasingly well positioned to address customers' needs across the full range of data integration requirements. Customer references city complete functionality forETL and tight integration with Oracle's middleware components, database management system and business applications. Customers, however, also report "specific difficulties with each of the tools that sometimes challenge their use as enterprise tools." In addition, they say it is necessary to buy multiple products, which complicates pricing and drives up costs.
-- SAP BusinessObjects continues to build toward a comprehensive information management infrastructure, with the breadth of functionality across the portfolio proving attractive toSAP's customers and prospects. The most significant strengths of the portfolio are ease of implementation, ease of use for ETL architectures, the richness of built-in transformation functionality, and the range of available adapters. Nevertheless, customers report a decline in quality of service and support, as well as frustrations regarding pricing and licensing. "Many customer references rated their overall experience in the relationship with SAPBusinessObjects as below their expectations, specifically emphasizing support and pricing concerns."