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New Gartner Magic Quadrant sizes up data quality tools vendors

Gartner added three vendors to its data quality Magic Quadrant and pointed to increased market volatility from acquisitions and new deployment models.

There's been plenty of volatility in the data quality software market over the past year as big vendors gobbled up smaller players, steadfast independents remained strong, and end users experimented with new deployment models, according to the new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools.

The annual Magic Quadrant report from Stamford, Conn.-based IT research firm Gartner Inc. ranks data quality software vendors as niche players, visionaries, challengers or leaders -- and this year's report featured three new additions. They include acquisition-happy megavendor Oracle Corp., open source data quality software provider Talend, and Ataccama Corp.

Cary, N.C.-based DataFlux Corp. retained its title as the overall leader this year, thanks to the company's ability to attract new customers and continually innovate, but this year's most interesting developments centered on the newcomers, said Gartner analyst Ted Friedman, who co-authored the report.

Oracle -- which acquired product data quality software firm Silver Creek Systems about 18 months ago and earlier this year bought Datanomic -- now has enough street credibility and market share to warrant inclusion in the Magic Quadrant evaluation, Friedman said. While France's Talend is the only open source pure-play on the list, the Czech Republic's Ataccama is continuing to gain ground in part by offering customers a free data profiling tool.

"We expect to see more and more vendors in the data quality space and the data integration space offering components of their solutions at either extremely low costs or for free, like these guys have done," Friedman said. "It's also nice to note that [from a global standpoint] the market is not so heavily routed in American software companies. It's nice to see some diversity there and Ataccama and Talend are good examples of that."

In addition to DataFlux, Gartner named Informatica, Trillium Software, IBM and SAP leaders in the data quality tools market. Pitney Bowes Business Insight and Oracle are listed in the challengers quadrant. DataLever, Uniserv, DataMentors, Human Inference, Datactics and Innovative Systems make up the niche players, and newcomers Talend and Ataccama are dubbed visionaries.

"Gartner advises organizations against simply selecting vendors in the leaders quadrant," the report reads. "All selections are buyer-specific, and vendors from the challengers, niche players or visionaries quadrants could be better matches for your requirements."

Demand for data quality tools on the rise
Demand for data quality tools remains strong, with more purchases being driven by data governance, master data management (MDM), business intelligence (BI) and application modernization efforts, according to Gartner. The research firm estimates that the size of market reached $800 million at the end of 2010, a 12.6% increase over 2009.

"When evaluating offerings in this market, organizations must consider not only the breadth of functional capabilities (for example, data profiling, parsing, standardization, matching, monitoring and enrichment) relative to their requirements, but also the degree to which this functionality can be readily understood, managed and leveraged by business resources rather than IT," the report advised. "In addition, they should consider how readily it can be embedded into business process workflows or other technology-enabled programs or initiatives such as MDM and BI."

Consolidation continues to be a factor
While several independent vendors like Talend and Ataccama continue to gain ground, there has been no shortage of consolidation in the data quality tools market in recent years. Much of that consolidation is the result of growing customer demand for fully integrated bundles of data integration, MDM and data quality tools, according to Gartner.

Friedman said he expects the data quality and data integration markets to eventually collapse into one. But before that happens, the relatively low costs associated with cloud computing will continue to make it easier for new vendors to enter the market.

"I have no doubt that some of the better vendors of a smaller stature will get acquired and that is just the way of the world," he said. "But on the other hand, we see lots of new smaller competitors coming in to fill that gap. This is a very vibrant market."

Beware of narrowly focused data quality tools
Individual data domains like customer and product information have individual sets of problems. That's why, when shopping for data quality software, it's important to seek out the most versatile options, according to Friedman.

"Seek technologies and tools that can be readily applied to multiple data domains," he said. "If you buy something that is really optimized for a particular data domain such as product information, you may struggle with applying that to data quality issues in other data domains."

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