One of my favorite features of IT-Analysis -- and its sister site, IT-Director.com -- is Philip Howard's product reviews. Howard is a Director of Research Technology with Bloor Research, and his specialty is data, so he often reviews data integration products.
He's also a Life Master at Bridge, but that's a bit less germane.
Monday's review on IT-Director.com is worth your read because Howard claims IBM's set a new standard for business-focused data integration tools with its recent release, Information Server FastTrack, which includes Business Glossary Anywhere.
I mentioned FastTrack's release in the March 21 integration news round-up, but Howard's review puts the release in a broader context.
He explains that data integration vendors have traditionally made a lot of noise about being business-focused when, in fact, their tools were woefully developer-focused. That makes sense on the surface -- after all, developers are the ones who handle most of the down-and-dirty integration tasks.
But, of course, the problem with this approach is that it inevitably leads to a big gap between what the developer does and what the business users want.
FastTrack solves the problem by flipping who controls the initial specification of the ETL (extract, transform and load), as Howard explains:
"Put simply, it allows business users to create the initial specification of an ETL (extract, transform and load) or other data integration process, which can then be used as the basis for collaboration with developers (depending on the complexity of the project) and/or to automatically generate DataStage jobs as well as relevant reports and documentation."
He's not the only one impressed. According to a recent review on Intelligent Enterprise, IBM claims FastTrack's tools reduced information integration project development time by 40 percent.
And here's the best part for Excel addicts: It lets business users define requirements in Microsoft Excel and translates those directly into code for the data integration engine.
As a side note, you might also want to check out Howard's recent review of EntropySoft, a niche integration tool that supports extract, transform and load for content (i.e., documents), rather than structured data.
In the EntropySoft review, Howard predicts that we'll be seeing more niche data integration offerings now that the more traditional data integration market has matured.