Analyst: Drag-and-Drop Tools Still More for IT Than Business

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Open source company Jitterbit released version 2.0 of its data integration platform, Jitterbit Enterprise, this week. Many of the new features are designed to address the needs of large organizations, including parallel processing, which processes large amounts of data quickly and simultaneously in chunks.


Jitterbit's Ilan Sehayek explained to PCWorld.com how this could be put to use with Salesforce.com. The online CRM system limits the number of records you can add in a single transmission, so if you want to load 100,000 leads into the system, you've got a problem. The parallel processing feature would enable you to send that data in chunks during multiple uploads.


But what caught my eye was the new graphical drag-and-drop user interface, which Sehayek, during a recent phone interview, told me would open up the tool for tech-savvy business users - the Excel power users, for instance.


I've noticed this feature popping up on other data integration tools -- although I'm not sure how new it is -- and I wondered how useful it is in the real world.


The PCWorld.com article on Jitterbit's new release quoted Rob Karel, an analyst with Forrester Research. Karel specializes in information and knowledge management, and his research includes data integration. Since I had interviewed Karel back in February about MDM technology, I decided to drop him an e-mail and ask about these types of tools. Specifically, I asked whether they work as promised and what do these types of business-user tools mean for IT's role in data integration? Is there any chance it'll cut down on IT's workload?


Sorry, IT -- it doesn't look like you're getting rid of data integration -- even bits of it (excuse the pun) that easily.


Karel responded:

"While drag-and-drop interfaces hope to solve for the 80/20 rule when designing data integration flows, I don't necessarily believe that any vendor has eliminated all forms of scripting required to support more complex enterprise transformation requirements. Of course the argument may be how 'scripting' or 'coding' is defined.


Also, user friendly UI's and reducing the amount of coding doesn't suddenly make data integration a business stakeholder's responsibility. The goal of user friendly interfaces for data integration software should be to improve IT efficiency, not eliminate IT's role in delivering integration requirements. ... That remains an IT responsibility."

In fact, he's not sure drag-and-drop integration will even appeal to business users. "I have never heard the need expressed from any business or IT client that they require business access to data integration," wrote Karel via e-mail.


Ah well. Maybe drag-and-drop will at least make IT's work a bit easier.


Jitterbit also added pipeline customization, which the press release explained lets you add customized logic and create reusable scripts.