Data integration shake-out due, says Ascential

Products that link corporate data sources are at a premium, but they will have to converge with real-time integration products

Data integration products, which transform data between different corporate applications, are due for a shake-out as they are required to link those applications in real time, according to Ascential Software. The company, which was left behind when Informix sold its databases to IBM. has launched a new version of its own data integration product, Datastage.

Data integration is a growing area, thanks to the large number of incompatible data sources in most companies, said Jay Huff, marketing director of Ascential. "There will always be more than one version of the truth, and more than one application suite," he said. "And the problem is getting worse."

"ETL" products such as DataStage, that Extract, Transform and Load data into analysis programs, will come under pressure as they are are increasingly expected to work like "EAI" (enterprise application integration) programs that maintain real-time links between sources, said Huff. Ascential is moving in that direction already, he asserted: "We have a connection to IBM's MQseries, for users to transfer data, populate repositories and drive dashboards."

By selling its database properties to IBM in July, Informix accelerated a plan to shift its efforts to Ascential, which is developing the data warehousing technologies Informix acquired with Ardent Software. "We have a billion dollars in the bank and no debt," said Huff. "We will be looking to increase our portfolio next year."

Ascential is market leader in its chosen area, said Huff, with other players including Informatica, Acta, Sagent and ETI. "Microsoft and Oracle have more basic integration tools, but customers looking at large-scale integration will come to us," said Huff.

Ascential's new products are DataStage XE, which looks after data quality and meta data management, DataStage XE/390, which runs in Cobol on IBM mainframes to integrate meta data, and DataStage XE Portal Edition, which offers a single point of access to manage the process of integrating data. There are also specific connectivity kits for PeopleSoft and Siebel.

Like most marketeers, Huff can find a bright side to the current downturn, suggesting it may increase companies' need to get access to detailed information about their company's performance, in order to restructure, he said. "Visibility of the business has become more important, and people will invest in efficiency."

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