Gartner Magic Quadrant: Data integration tools must offer versatility

The 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools focuses on the growing demand for products that combine integration and other capabilities.

The recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools shows that demand is quickly growing for integration options that can do it all. With data becoming increasingly more distributed and fragmented, organizations want flexible products that blend in nicely with existing data management investments and that offer a variety of uses.

According to Ted Friedman, a Gartner vice president and analyst and a co-author of the report, demand is growing for tools that combine integration capabilities with data quality and master data management (MDM) functions. And it's no wonder, said Friedman, because high levels of data quality are essential to the success of data integration projects.

"We believe that you can't be successful in doing data integration unless you have a strong focus on data quality built in," Friedman said. "It's not just about connecting things, it's about making sure data gets delivered in a fit-for-purpose way, and that's where the data quality capabilities come in."

In addition to better integration with data quality and MDM, customers are also looking for tools that can support a broader range of capabilities and data integration styles. This is a trend that has been on the rise for a quite some time, but has just begun to reach mainstream awareness this year, Friedman said.

The annual Gartner Magic Quadrant report ranks the top data integration software vendors, categorizing them as leaders, challengers, visionaries or niche players. This is based on a range of criteria that evaluates their "completeness of vision" and "ability to execute."

IBM and Informatica remained positioned as the clear leaders, with SAP, Oracle and SAS also in the leaders quadrant. Microsoft was named the lone challenger, with Information Builders, Talend, Actian-Pervasive Software and Composite Software identified as visionaries. Adeptia and Syncsort were both placed in the niche players quadrant.

Best data integration tools still on the horizon

A product that represents the perfect combination of data integration, data quality and MDM has yet to come along, according to Friedman, but it is something users can expect to see in the future.

"I think it's a work in progress," he said. "Certainly we see more and more providers that offer complementary technology in all three of those spaces -- data integration tools, data quality tools and MDM solutions -- but there [are] still quite a few that compete in one of the three, or possibly two of the three."

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The IT industry also has much work to do in terms of producing data integration tools that support multiple data integration styles, according to Friedman. Many large vendors offer various tools that support a wide range of data integration styles, but navigating the maze of those tools can be daunting. Friedman said some of the newer entrants in the data integration market may be the ones to crack the code.

"We see some new players coming in with a different philosophy; they look at integration very holistically," he said. "They're kind of starting from the beginning with a single product that can support that range of data integration styles."

A dynamic market ahead for data integration tools

Big data technologies -- such as the Apache Hadoop distributed data processing framework and NoSQL databases -- are having a major influence on the development of data integration tools, according to Gartner.

"I think one of the important directions that the tooling in this market will need to go is to be able to support the concept of distributed architectures for integrating data," Friedman said.

New delivery models, such as lower-cost, subscription-based pricing and cloud-based delivery models, are also having a major influence on the data integration market.

"Most of the time these new entrants come to the market with something of that variety; something that offers buyers maybe a more cost-effective solution [that is] lower priced than the big incumbent players, often subscription-based pricing models, and I think that's a big shift that's occurring in the market," Friedman said.

A big change in the market as a whole centers on the fact that many organizations are giving serious consideration to smaller data integration tools vendors and are less likely to go with the big vendors by default.

"I feel in a way like the space is quite dynamic right now: new vendors coming in, a desire for different thinking and different approaches, and a willingness on the part of buyers to maybe take a bit of a risk in adopting some of these newer offerings and approaches," Friedman said. "So in that sense, I think it's kind of an exciting time in this market."

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