Customer Data Integration Gains Prominence as Vendor Ranks Thin Out - InformationWeek

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Customer Data Integration Gains Prominence as Vendor Ranks Thin Out

Some say it's no longer a question of whether you should deploy a CDI solution, but which approach you should follow.

For customers and vendors alike, IBM's acquisition of DWL (together with earlier purchases of Trigo and Ascential) is a validation (if one were needed) that customer data integration (CDI) has "arrived." Further affirmation of CDI's importance as a solution area was recently provided by Gartner's new Magic Quadrant for CDI hubs and Forrester's Forrester Wave for CDI. Then there's the CDI Institute's Market Review and Forecast, which projects that CDI software and services will be a $1 billion market by 2008.

If you're in the market for a CDI solution, what are your options? You could go to vendors such as IBM, Oracle or Siebel (the latter soon to be in Oracle's portfolio anyway), which offer the technology aligned to another, larger enterprise solution that you perhaps already have. Or, you can seek out smaller but often technologically equal or even superior solutions, such as those from Siperian and Initiate Systems. Some say it's no longer a question of whether you should deploy a CDI solution, but which approach you should follow.

IBM customers may be comforted that they can now go to a single vendor for a CDI product as well as customer data management, but much of the benefit will depend on how well and how quickly IBM can integrate the disparate data models for Trigo and DWL. Superficial integration would be of little value to customers seeking true enterprise data integration. Also, what of existing DWL deployments in non-IBM environments such as Oracle or BEA?

DWL CEO John Baumstark assures us of the commitment to continue supporting such environments, but he was less forthcoming about the plans to integrate the two data models.

Philip Russom, senior manager of research and services at The Data Warehousing Institute, suggests that the DWL acquisition is a continued indication of IBM's recognition early on that integration isn't a single technology, tool or practice — it's a long list, and IBM is willing to both build and buy as it fills out the list.

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