Data integration buyers now have many choices of vendors and platforms -- but they're increasingly interested in one method in particular, according to a co-author of Gartner Inc.'s Magic Quadrant.
The market continues to experience a dichotomy, with a changing cast of vendors delivering data integration platforms, according to Ted Friedman, vice president and distinguished analyst with the Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm and co-author of the study. Big vendors are getting bigger through acquisition, as evidenced by IBM's recently announced plans to purchase Cognos and SAP's plans to acquire Business Objects. But other, smaller, pure-play vendors are sprouting up, too. There are additions to the study this year -- Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based Syncsort Inc. and Hummingbird Connectivity, a division of Waterloo, Ontario-based Open Text Corp., as well as a host of other vendors that didn't meet the inclusion criteria but still added to the market's growth.
Buyers are demanding data integration platforms that support a range of different styles of data delivery, a trend noted in last year's study and mirrored in this year's inclusion criteria. The study looked only at platforms that support ETL and at least one other integration style, like real-time data replication or data federation, Friedman said. Platforms are converging at a deeper technology level as well. That means they're based on common design tooling, metadata and runtime architectures, according to the study.
The data integration method garnering more interest now is real-time data integration, particularly "Change Data Capture," Friedman said. Change Data Capture tools help companies recognize and capture important changes that are occurring in one data source and then propagate that changed data to another target. IBM talked up that feature when it acquired Data Mirror, and Friedman has often been asked about it recently.
"The terminology that's emerging is 'event-driven approaches to data integration,' " Friedman said. "It's growing fairly substantially in popularity. Real-time, operational business intelligence is pushing some of that interest -- but more than that, people are interested in the technology because it enables a more time-effective, low-latency way of synchronizing data across different systems and databases."
There's increased interest in data federation, too, though Friedman said inquiries about it are "a distant third" to questions about ETL or event-driven approaches. And buyers are also asking about open-source data integration, which in the longer term could affect the market in a "fairly dramatic way," he said. Though he's not seeing substantial use of open source data integration tools on an enterprise-level scale, he said, if the freely downloaded tools mature to offer more functionality, commercial vendors may begin to feel some pricing pressure.
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The leaders' quadrant of the study, for vendors with high marks for vision and execution, hosted IBM and Informatica. Both were in positions similar to those of last year, thanks to continuing to meet market demands with versatile platforms, Friedman said.
Business Objects, Microsoft and Oracle all appeared in the challengers' quadrant, for vendors with less vision but strong customer execution. The latter two have vision challenges, Friedman said. While their position as challengers is largely a result of increased customer adoption of SQL Server Integration Services and Oracle Data Integrator, he said, these vendors need to do more to articulate a "comprehensive vision."
The visionaries' quadrant, for vendors with good vision but not as much execution experience, had just two vendors this year. iWay, a subsidiary of business intelligence vendor Information Builders, made it into this section thanks to its breadth of integration capabilities and vision, particularly around the role of data integration in service-oriented architectures, Friedman said. SAS Institute was also in the visionaries' quadrant with a strong, versatile platform.
Most vendors were clustered in the niche quadrant, reserved for those not as strong on vision and execution but which still met the study's inclusion criteria. Near the top of the section was Pervasive Software, which dropped back a bit from its position in the challengers' section last year. Pervasive has a strong product with a mix of capabilities, and the cost-to-functionality ratio is good, Friedman said, but the vendor didn't have enough enterprise-class implementations or execution experience to be in the challengers' quadrant this year. Others in the niche quadrant were Cognos, Sybase, Tibco Software, SAP, ETI, Sun, Pitney Bowes' Group 1 Software, Syncsort, and Hummingbird Connectivity. Friedman is interested to see how SAP's planned acquisition of Business Objects affects the space, since both vendors have integration products and little is known yet about how they may rationalize these capabilities.
Advice for enterprise data integration platform purchasers
Buyers should definitely look at data integration platforms with "breadth" or many integration capabilities, Friedman said -- and should think beyond ETL for a data warehouse.
"You can get a lot of value out of these tools for a range of different scenarios," he said, "not just ETL for the warehouse, but consolidations, conversions, application integration and more."
Organizations should also look for strong metadata management and modeling functions, Friedman said. Basic integration capabilities may become commoditized in the long term, he said, so organizations should align with vendors that can help them truly understand data assets, relationships between data, and how data changes over time.
Finally, buyers should seriously think about the importance of data and data integration in service-oriented architectures (SOA), Friedman said.
"Consider how these types of tools can be used to help facilitate and add value in your SOA work," he said. "We find that's a concept that too few organizations are thinking about today."