Trends That Will Influence the Integration Market in 2011

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Data integration will be a top tech story this year, says Seth Grimes, an analytics strategist with Alta Plana Corporation. I hate to be self-centered, but that sounds good to me.


I know why I like it, but what's his rationale for this statement? I mean, beyond the obvious fact that data integration underlies so many other things enterprises want to achieve with technology, such as more insight into customer behavior, spending less and obtaining that unicorn of data-one version of the truth?


In "5 Paths To The New Data Integration," published Tuesday on InformationWeek, Grimes explains why. While he still sees ETL as the leading approach to data integration, he also predicts complementary approaches such as mashups and semantic integration will give us more "dynamic capabilities ... driven by data profiles (type, distribution, and attributes of values) rather than by rigid, application-specific data definitions."


Sounds fun.


These new approaches to data integration will help companies achieve two huge goals: The ability to provide do-it-yourself analysis and a way to manage the vast amounts of data from different sources.


That sounds smart.


Grimes explains via an example, reviewing five approaches that exemplify mashups for BI and semantic tools that perform integration. What's intriguing about all five examples is that none are marketed as data integration solutions per se-heck, Google is one of the examples, as is BI vendor Tableau.


While Grimes takes a look at the cutting-edge of data integration in the coming year, Data Doghouse blogger and founder of Athena IT Solutions Rick Sherman recently outlined some less glamorous, but perhaps far-reaching predictions for BI and data integration in 2011.


Sherman bases his predictions on two overriding trends: value (aka cheap) solutions, which will continue to drive BI and data integration investments, and the slower movement (slower than vendors or analysts have predicted) on trends by enterprises-especially in situations that would require them to replace a solution that may not be optimal, but is at least working. As Sherman points out:

Remember, in business there is a concept of opportunity cost. Oftentimes a business group is looking for new business analytics and insights to increase growth. Those new insights are delayed if IT replaces one system with another that does the same thing only at a lower cost. ... Enterprises generally leverage a trend in new application areas to generate new analytics and insights. And it often gets lost on the technologists, but enterprises are in the business of selling product and services, not building IT systems. These systems are support functions only. No matter how cool the new tool is, it is only useful if it helps the business sell more or increase profits.

He doesn't go into depth on the predictions yet, but he promises to follow-up soon-and he does give a bit of insight into his general outlook by providing a related Led Zeppelin song. Alas, I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan, so most of those were lost on me. Still, it's not hard to guess what he means when he predicts, "Master Data Management (MDM) hits the wall," and couples it with the song, "Heartbreaker."


If you're not tired of predictions, you should also check out Benoit J. Lheureux's recent post on predictions for 2011. Lheureux is a Gartner research vice president and agenda manager for the Application Infrastructure group. His focus is on application integration, middleware and B2B e-commerce, though his focus in this post is on B2B integration. Alas, many of the reports he references are only available to clients and the listed predictions are through 2015, but if you scroll down to the research agenda for 2011, you can get a general idea of the direction Gartner foresees for integration brokerages, cloud and integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), which he describes as "an evolved form of integration-as-a-service (IaaS)."


Of course, these aren't the only list of integration-related predictions for 2011. And while some may disagree over specifics and focus, the one thing they all agree on: 2011 should be an interesting year for integration.