Gartner released its 2008 Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tool on Monday. Normally, this 32-page document would run you $1,995.00, but already it's available for free online, thanks to SAS, whose Enterprise Data Integration Server offering ranked in the visionary quadrant. You don't even have to provide basic registration information -- just click through and enjoy.
What's great about this report is it breaks down the pros and cons of each vendor's product, offering you a list of strengths, but also providing a rundown of cautionary advice.
The report also gives you a sort of state of the market overview. I wasn't surprised to see that SOA, master data management and business intelligence are all driving investments in data integration tools. But I was surprised to learn that cost control is also playing a role in boosting the profile of data integration tools. The report notes:
"Recent focus on cost control has made data integration tools a surprising priority as organizations realize the 'people; commitment for implementing and supporting custom-coded or semimanual data integration approaches is no longer reasonable."
Previously, the report noted, this market was all about ETL (extraction, transformation and loading) and then, as business intelligence became more important, vendors started focusing more on metadata.
In the past two years, Gartner noted, "vendors and leading organizations have been pursuing a strategy of centralizing their capabilities for semantic interpretation and reconciliation as a service within a platform and reducing, in relative terms, their emphasis on connectivity and specific data delivery styles."
What stands out to me in that sentence is "semantic." I've been reading and talking to people more about semantic integration, and I'm starting to see that word pop up a lot more in relation to data integration tools. I suspect it will become a hot topic for CIOs in the near future, as companies start incorporating semantic technologies into existing products.
The trick for CIOs, IT leaders and the tech press will be separating rebranding from tools that are truly semantic. I don't think it's something to worry about just yet -- "semantics" is still a pretty unfamiliar term for most people, but it's just something to keep an eye on.
The report also warned about vendor consolidation, which seems to be the perennial caveat emptor for the data integration market:
"Vendor consolidation continues, driven by the convergence of single-purpose tools into data integration suites or platforms. ... Buyers must recognize that, as an evolving market, disruptions caused by merger and acquisition activity are likely as smaller vendors with valuable technology continue to be subsumed into larger entities to form more complete data integration tools portfolios."
If you're short on time, check out the quadrant, skim the market overview, and check out the vendors that interest you.
But if you're really short on time, you can read Vincent McBurney's summary at IT Toolbox. Mcburney, a Deloitte Consulting manager in Australia, goes an extra step for readers by doing an overlay of last year's Magic Quadrant with this year's Magic Quadrant, so you can see at a glance how offerings have changed during the past year.