When you read about agile tech, it can be a bit confusing, because "agile" is used in two ways. For most of us, agile implies nimbleness, quickness, ease of movement. Marketing materials for tech solutions often use this term.
And then there's agile development, which is also quick and nimble, but more specifically refers to an iterative development approach. Sometimes, when vendors talk about their agile products, this is what they really mean.
It turns out, both types of agility were the big buzzwords for integration vendors at the recent TDWI Summer World Conference in San Diego, according to a recent article published on TDWI's site.
In some ways, this isn't surprising at all. After all, agility is a huge point of interest right now-everybody wants to be some sort of quick, flexible tech gymnast these days. But what's interesting about applying agile development approaches to integration is that it can actually be problematic, as TDWI's own senior manager of research and services, Philip Russom, has warned in the past. That's because data integration and data warehousing tend to involve more than one project or application, which means you need to focus more on the big picture than small deliverables.
But it turns out, agile does bring some positive influence to data warehousing, including an understanding that you can't always foresee or understand all requirements, argues Michael Whitehead, CEO of ETL vendor, WhereScape. That allows developers to focus on small deliverables-and ultimately, he contends, this could help solve those little Excel silos business users love to make:
It's a dirty little secret of the industry. For too long we as an industry have been ignoring the fact that we take too long to build things, and this is because we assume [at the beginning] that we have to get them right -- but we don't ever get them right! That's why you see people still doing satellite data marts, still doing their own Excel spreadsheets, still doing [operational data stores]: it's because IT can't get it right the first time.
This article provides a nice look at some newer products (and a few old ones) that promise agility in the arenas of business intelligence data and data integration. It also includes a brief discussion of what's happened to Enterprise Information Integration technology-aka, data federation-which has settled into its own and is used primarily for frequently refreshed reporting and sometimes for enabling virtualization, according to Bob Eve, executive vice president of marketing with Composite.