Data Federation and EII are Underutilized Integration Tools
I'm working my way through the current EII and data federation products as part of research I'm doing for on-demand/real-time data warehousing. The new features in these products - ease of use, non-relational sources, ERP connectors, performance / scaling enhancements, multiple input and output protocols - really make them worth a second look. It's underutilized in current environments that have to deal with on-demand or "right time" data access and multi-format data.
This coming Wednesday (February 14) I'll be doing a short webcast for TDWI on EII covering a little bit of how EII and federation tools work and how they can be used both in and outside the BI environment.
In the past I haven't been a big fan of EII for a few good (I think) reasons:
I now find myself liking the latest releases of the products. The vendors who survived the mini-hype wave circa 2005 have largely dealt with points 2, 3 and 4 but points 1 and 5 are still true.
- EII/federation vendors are wedged between big ETL vendors on one side and big EAI vendors on the other side (long term product viability).
- One class of products tended to focus on XML-only interchange, and generally sucked for relational data, particularly in the areas of performance, scalability and ease-of-use.
- The other class of products focused on distributed queries but didn't work well for anything else, and were mostly limited to relational output.
- The IT usage scenarios were/are not quite mature enough to provide a solid market.
- Too expensive relative to the value based on use cases.
Long term viability of standalone vendors is still an issue, though I expect the best few may survive. We're more likely to see EII/federation slip into the data integration stacks or platforms of major vendors and squeezing the smaller niche products out. We're seeing some of that happen already.
The better products still cost too much unless you have the perfect use case. The ROI simply isn't there for real-time data delivery when companies already have alternatives that meet "good enough" criteria; technologies like replication, EAI/queuing software, and CDC/ETL combinations. But...
At the same time, I'm seeing more use cases, and more urgency around some of the existing uses. For a time dashboard hype was lifting EII vendors, but the value/cost ratio of the dashboard use case was poor. Many EII vendors are now chasing the SOA market because EII shows more value there than as an adjunct to support dashboards. Try using EAI tools to make distributed multi-format queries some time. It's not fun.
I'll be writing up more as I run products through their paces. Vendors I'll be doing in-depth work with include IBM, Composite, BEA, Business Objects and several others. Look here over the coming months for more detailed technical writeups. I'm going to be tying portals and mashup servers into the mix so this will be fun.
Labels: data federation, data integration, EII
Posted by Mark Sunday, February 11, 2007 10:30:00 PM |