Why Gartner's Data Integration Magic Quadrant Is Shrinking

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Compare the latest incarnation of Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Data Integration with those from a few years ago - say 2008 or 2007 - and what becomes immediately apparent is how sparse the quadrant's become in a short time.


The quadrant ranks vendors as challengers, leaders, visionaries or niche players along a continuum of completeness of vision (the horizontal) and ability to execute (the vertical). In 2009, Talend came on board as the first open source company to make the Data Integration Magic Quadrant. Since then, there have been no new additions. But in the interim, Sybase, Pitney Bowes Business Insight, ETI and Open Text all dropped off the list of major data integration solution providers, albeit for different reasons.


Ted Friedman, a vice president in Gartner Research and member of the Information Management team, is a long-time co-author on the report. He explained via email that there are two main reasons why data integration vendors are no longer listed on the Magic Quadrant.


First, Gartner has increased the requirements for inclusion over the years. Among the more significant changes, he said, are that Gartner now looks for:


  • Metadata management functionality
  • A range of data integration styles
  • Interoperability with data quality capabilities
  • ETI and Pitney Bowes were casualties of these new criteria

Second, there were a number of mergers and acquisitions in the data integration space, Friedman explained. For instance, SAP acquired Business Objects in 2007 and then Sybase in 2010.


"The number of vendors on the MQ has decreased because many are falling out of alignment with market demand trends - demand for multiple data delivery styles, richer metadata management, and tied links to data quality capabilities," Friedman said.


Among those that remain, most of the shift in position has been subtle and largely within a single quadrant. For instance, IBM, Informatica, Oracle and SAP have all anchored the leaders quadrant, although Informatica and IBM have traded places over the years, with Informatica gaining the edge in terms of ability to execute and completeness of vision. SAS/DataFlux also now ranks as a leader, although it teeters just on the edge above the visionary quadrant.


Microsoft has ranked as a challenger since 2005, which makes you wonder what kind of challenger hasn't found a way to break into the pack after six years. Syncsort remains a niche player - and apparently this veteran company is happy with that status.


"We operate a core set of ETL capabilities and we think that is a market [that has] frankly been underserved, so we continue to invest in the core engine," Josh Rogers, the company's vice president of worldwide sales, recently told TechTarget. "I think you'll see us start to invest in other areas to kind of broaden what we deliver, but we're not looking to build out a platform that is equal in breadth to an Informatica or an IBM."


iWay Software made the move from niche player to visionary in 2007, and it's slowly but surely edging its way toward the leadership quadrant. Likewise, Talend seems to be making slow but steady movement up the visionaries quadrant toward the leaders square.


Pervasive Software remains a visionary, although it seems to have lost ground on its ability to execute over the years.


Gartner provides an in-depth assessment of each of these major players, but if you're not concerned about Gartner's criteria - if, for instance, you just want a great ETL tool or something that uses a more niche approach, like semantics - then you might want to check out the long list of other data integration vendors included in the report.


A glance at the list shows there's still a lot of diversity and options available when it comes to data integration options, even if they aren't Magic Quadrant material per se.


Here you'll find unusual vendors like Kapow, which uses what it calls an "extraction browser" to perform application-to-application integration; expressor, which uses a semantic approach to data integration; and nearly three pages of companies offering cloud connectors, ETL, change data capture technologies, application-specific solutions and other approaches to data integration.


Apparently, there's still plenty of fish to fry in the data integration tool market - and with its value expected to reach $2.7 billion by 2015, I wouldn't expect that to change too much in the near future, even with growing requirements and acquisitions.