IBM Adds More Support for Integration

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IBM Software Chief Steve Mills says 75 percent of the world's data comes from replication of existing information, according to this IDG article, printed this week in The New York Times.


"Think of the cost of replicating information over and over again to all sorts of servers and storage devices. It's a huge opportunity to gain efficiencies," Mills urged.


Efficiencies that could, theoretically, be used to pay for the technology IBM's creating to address this problem.


IBM has big money riding on information. In a mere six months, the article remarked, IBM ran through $1 billion in spending on information management technology and kept going. Information integration, migrating, consolidating, cleansing and analysis -- this is the business of IBM's Information on Demand product and service line.


This week, IBM is holding its Information On Demand conference in Las Vegas. To celebrate, there's been a slew of announcements about product updates, including two related to integration.


First and foremost on the list, IBM took pre-defined data integration and cleansing tools from its InfoSphere Information Server and added these capabilities to the InfoSphere Master Data Management Server, according to this press release. This will allow companies to get up and running sooner with MDM by helping companies pull together information from a different systems to "provide a clear view of the business," vnunet.com reported.


The new release of InfoSphere MDM will also include rules for data loading and cleansing that reduce risks while speeding up MDM deployments, according to Intelligent Enterprise.


The InfoSphere MDM Server also includes integration support for the Cognos 8 platform, a company IBM acquired earlier this year. This, too, is a move designed to help synchronize data from across the organization. IBM has also integrated Cognos 8 BI with the InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse, a data warehousing system, according to IDG.


The Intelligent Enterprise article also covers an upcoming release of the InfoSphere Information Server, which will support faster data integration:

A year-end release of the InfoSphere Information Server will extend the DataStage module to support what IBM calls "balanced optimization," an approach that speeds data integration by pushing the "transform" part of extract, transform and load processes into high-performance databases. The approach is not entirely new; the alternative "extract, load, transform" integration approach was previously put into practice by Sunopsis (among others), an integration vendor acquired by Oracle in 2006.

The biggest announcement, however, did not have to do with integration, but the solidDB Universal Cache, a technology acquired by IBM in December 2007. IBM says the cache will accelerate relational databases' performance up to 10 times. The next version is expected to ship in December and support IBM, Oracle and Sybase relational databases, with support for Microsoft SQL available in 2009, according to IDG.


When I last searched for IBM's news, Google listed 146 new articles on the various announcements coming out of the Information On Demand conference. The blogosphere, however, latched on to a very different IBM item -- a post written by blogger and 30-year enterprise systems management and IT veteran John M. Willis, urging IBM clients to opt out and move to open source. Matt Asay of CNET News picked it up and added his own encouragement


For many, the thought of leaving the safety of IBM's arms will simply be too much, but think of it this way: this is a way to encourage IBM (and SAP, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, etc.) to actually start building better software. Give open source a chance and you're feeding IBM the tough love it needs to update and upgrade its products. IBM will love you for it ... eventually.

Or, possibly, IBM will just acquire those open source solutions - that seems to be a big part of its strategy, as the Intelligent Enterprise article pointed out:

When you dig down into the bits and pieces, IBM more often acquires (solidDB) or matches existing technology (Data Stage balanced optimization) rather than pioneering on its own. Still, Big Blue is unique in its breadth of technologies and its ability to set high-level goals for much of business, industry and government.