Organizations Demanding More from Data Integration Tools

Loraine Lawson
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Top 10 Best Practices for Data Integration

Use these guidelines to help you achieve more modern, high-value and diverse uses of DI tools and techniques.

Data integration tools have matured and expanded over the past few years, but data-related expectations have also changed, according to a recent report by Gartner. That means customers are demanding more from their data integration tools, including integration options that go beyond the bulk transfer of ETL, Gartner says.

Gartner outlines these new requirements in its updated "Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools," which was published Oct. 27 but was recently made available as a free download by several vendors mentioned in the report, including SAP and Informatica.

Specifically, Gartner states more companies will evaluate data integration solutions on their ability to:

  • Integrate "extreme information," such as Big Data, with its unstructured, high-volume, high-velocity requirements.
  • Support or operate with other data management technologies, such as data quality and MDM - although Gartner notes, "This requires a degree of sophisticated metadata management that still eludes many users of the tools."
  • Data governance, which organizations now see as linked to data integration and data quality, and essential to other key initiatives, including business intelligence, MDM and application modernization.
  • Integrate with the cloud.
  • Offer "Tools that can participate in a framework-based approach to addressing information capabilities."

Organizations aren't just expecting data integration solutions to do more; they're also expecting these tools to be useful in a wider variety of situations. Traditionally, data integration solutions came into play for business intelligence or data warehousing projects. Now, businesses are also deploying data integration tools for:

  • Moving and transforming master data in conjunction with MDM.
  • Synchronizing data between operational applications and with business partners or SaaS/cloud providers outside the organization.
  • Service-enabling data within a service-oriented architecture.

The full report includes an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the vendors listed in the quadrant. Informatica ranked the best overall, with IBM's solution - once again - hot on its heels in terms of completeness of vision and ability to execute. SAP, Oracle and SAS/DataFlux also ranked in the leaders quadrant. iWay Software, Talend and Pervasive Software made the visionaries quadrant, while Microsoft rated as a challenger and Syncsort placed as a "niche" player, right on the line of becoming a challenger.

Before you invest in a new data integration tool, Gartner's Ted Friedman (@ted_friedman) - a co-author on the report - recommends you first consider solutions that support a variety of integration methods, as well as data quality.

"Seek out vendors that support a range of styles because it's not a one size fits all," Friedman recommended in a recent TechTarget article. "Organizations cannot be successful in their data integration work unless they have a very strong focus on data quality built in. That's because it's not only about delivering stuff from here to there. You also have to make sure you're delivering the right stuff."

Gartner estimates the data integration tools market was worth $1.63 billion last year, and is expected to grow another 15 percent this year. Gartner believes it will reach $2.7 billion by 2015.

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