Data management and BI's top nine stories of 2009

Take a look back at the year that was in data management, including improvements in BI software thanks to in-memory analytics and increased competition in a red-hot data warehouse market.

With a recession ravaging the economy, data management took on renewed importance in 2009. As companies struggled to make the most of their corporate data to improve efficiencies and find and keep customers, innovations in business intelligence (BI) and other data management technologies helped them adapt to the new normal. Take a look back at the year that was with's top nine stories of 2009.

9. Self-service BI adoption still languishing
BI vendors continued to push the concept of self-service BI in an attempt to spread the use of their software to non-technical users. But while the benefits of self-service BI are many, customers have yet to embrace BI for the masses . According to a Forrester Research survey, fewer than 20% of organizations offer BI tools to casual users. That could change in 2010, however, with Microsoft's much anticipated PowerPivot release .

8. Collaboration capabilities come to BI
For those companies that have embraced pervasive BI, one way to get even more out of the technology is to infuse it with killer collaboration capabilities like blogs, IM and wikis. CSC, a consulting company based in Falls Church, Va., for example, plans to embed Business Objects reports within its Jive collaboration portal to help its more than 90,000 employees across the globe share analytics and reports more easily. SharePoint Server will likely play a major role in Microsoft's upcoming BI releases, and IBM is reportedly working on new collaboration tools for its Cognos line of products.

7. Cloud computing for data warehousing and analytics gaining steam
While still a long way from mainstream adoption, cloud computing for data warehousing and analytics took some major strides in 2009. Niche players like U.K.-based Kognitio , for example, continued to attract new customers with data-as-a-service models, while IBM and Greenplum each introduced private analytics clouds this year.

6. Organizations still struggling with poor data quality
Just as in 2007 and 2008, data quality continued to bedevil most organizations in 2009. According to a Gartner survey, poor data quality is actually costing companies millions of dollars every year. And while most organizations acknowledge the importance of data quality, only around half of all companies have actually deployed data quality tools or started data quality initiatives , Gartner says. The good news, however, is that the overall data quality market continued to grow in 2009, with data quality dashboards for non-IT workers showing increased adoption.

5. Open source data management technologies get a second look
Open source data management tools are no longer just for cash-strapped SMBs and startups. In fact, in 2009, even large organizations like British Telecom are using open source BI technology to complement their proprietary BI systems. And Gartner says open source data integration is a good choice for standard ETL jobs. Open source data quality, though, still has a ways to go before it can compete with its commercial counterparts.

4. In-memory computing boosts BI
A number of vendors including SAP and IBM embraced in-memory computing to boost BI performance this year. With in-memory computing, data is loaded into random access memory and queried in the BI application itself, increasing query speed. In-memory BI technology could prove a particular boon to operational workers like call center representatives, who need near-instant access to data while speaking with a customer. "These people need to make these kinds of decisions in only a few minutes," TDWI's Philip Russom said.

3. In-database analytics does likewise for data warehouses
Similar to in-memory technology, in-database analytics puts the analytic power inside the data warehouse , meaning data does not need to be transferred to a separate BI application. In-database analytics came closer to becoming a reality in 2009 thanks to the emergence of MapReduce, an open source framework originally developed by Google. And the SAS Institute partnered with a number of data warehouse vendors to embed their software in the analytic database last year."There's a lot of push from customers -- at least, leading-edge customers -- to support this kind of framework," said Forrester's Jim Kobielus.

2. Data integration not just for ETL anymore
The definition of data integration expanded in 2009 from simply ETL to include terms like data federation and data replication. Data federation technologies helped companies supplement existing data warehouse deployments, for example, while Oracle's acquisition of GoldenGate Software illustrated the growing importance of data replication during application migrations.

1. The data warehouse market catches fire
To say that competition in the data warehouse market grew fierce in 2009 would be an understatement. Thanks to the advent of commodity hardware and MPP architectures, data warehouse prices continued to drop this year even while performance increased. It got to the point where some vendors were even giving away their data warehouses for free ! Expect to see more of the same in 2010. Rumor has it that Microsoft is even going to make its upcoming parallel data warehouse offering available for under $13,000 per terabyte.

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