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November 9, 2010

Big Players Move Application and Data Integration to the Cloud

Filed under: Data Integration, EAI — Katherine Vasilega @ 7:44 am

Recently, Microsoft announced that it was just about to deliver a genuine integration service—a multi-tenant, highly scalable enterprise application and data integration Cloud service built on AppFabric and running on Windows Azure. The company proclaimed that it would be an important and game changing step for BizTalk Server—an enterprise integration server, which connects systems inside and across organizations, to exchange data and conduct various processes.

This announcement was made at just the same time when two other major vendors—Dell and Fiorano—revealed their plans to offer solutions for application and data integration in the Cloud. Dell had acquired Boomi, a company that offers a Cloud-based service called AtomSphere, which is an integration platform for connecting Cloud-based applications with other apps. One more Silicon Valley’s major player, Fiorano had launched the Fiorano Cloud Platform, which is a hybrid version of the traditional on-premises integration model and the contemporary integration-as-a-service model.

These are exciting innovations in the data integration space and in the integration-as-a-service market in general. The major software vendors are definitely heading for the integration-in-the-cloud solutions. The best news is that Cloud customers may be getting stronger and more up-to-date application and data integration platforms than those installed on traditional on-premises servers.

September 28, 2010

What Is The Difference Between ETL and EAI?

Filed under: EAI, ETL — Katherine Vasilega @ 3:48 pm

There has been some talk lately about the merge between EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) and ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools. I’ve decided to research in what way these tools differ and what they have in common.

Both tools deal with transformation and meta-data, feature connectors and service oriented architecture. They provide new capabilities for solving business intelligence and reporting issues and are an essential part of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). ETL is used for data integration and EAI is used for application integration.

Entities vs Processes

An ETL tool takes entities from one or more data sources and puts them into a target. These entities can be invoices, contacts, budgets, etc. It’s not the order of things that is important to a data model, but the relations existing between the entities. The ETL tool coordinates multiple entities and their relationships as data objects.

An EAI tool coordinates multiple entities and their relationships within a given process. EAI deals with transactions within the process, not with entities. In this case, the order in which things happen is vital, and the relationship within entities is less important, than the relationship within transactions.

In other words, EAI is generally process-oriented, while ETL is generally entity-oriented.

Convergence vs Divergence

ETL is about moving and transforming large amounts of data from many sources into one place. This process can be referred to as convergence. EAI, in its turn, is often used to move small amounts of data, spreading these transactions across various systems, which is known as divergence.

Business Cases

ETL is utilized for data migration and data integration to allow better decision making. EAI is utilized for process optimization and workflows and to make sure that data is entered only once and is properly used by systems and applications. The business case for ETL use is business intelligence, decision making, while EAI is used for IT, e-business, and better workflow.

From what I’ve learned, ETL and EAI tools are unlikely to merge completely at present. Though they are both important for Enterprise Information Management market, each tool is used for different purposes, and sometimes you have to combine them. Each concept is likely to remain and have its own users.

March 12, 2009

Some Figures Concerning BI

Filed under: EAI — Tags: , , — Olga Belokurskaya @ 8:26 am

I’ve recently come accross some interesting figures.

According to Gartner, over 60% of organizations state they have a BI strategy, but despite the many years experience most organizations have with BI, they aren’t doing better in addressing the fundamental challenges of BI.

Gartner estimates that no more than 20% of business users actually use BI proactively. This means that BI is not being widely used to manage performance. And advises that IT must look for means to align BI initiatives with corporate and business objectives. Saying about BI strategy it underlines that it doesn’t mean just choosing which megavendors you will work with. You must keep in mind that the speed of technology change is increasing. There are lots of thechnologies concidered as trends, which have the potential to disrupt the BI marketspace significantly. They are Web 2.0, interactive visualization, in-memory analytics, SaaS, and BI integrated search.

All these topics were discussed at the recent Gartner Business Intelligence Summit 2009 during March 9-11, by the way.

January 5, 2009

EII plus Data Warehousing

Filed under: Data Warehousing, EAI — Alena Semeshko @ 3:08 am

The Holiday season is over and as much as I hate to admit it, life is getting back to the routine.
Oh well I was going to share a few thoughts on integration before disappearing for a long weekend, but didn’t get to it in the holiday rush, so might as well do it now.

Enterprise information integration (EII), another technology that seems to be neglected in the SOA, mashup, and warehousing craze of the day.

It’s integration, however, that really expands data throughout the company. When I tried looking deeper into this concept, I came across this article on how the combination of data warehousing and EII working together could really benefit the company.

With the ability to integrate data from multiple data sources that EII tools provide, and the scalability of warehousing applications, you could work wonders. Well, see the article for yourself for more details.

December 8, 2008

CRM Going Social

Filed under: Data Mashup, EAI — Alena Semeshko @ 3:25 am

Social networks are only getting bigger, aren’t they? Even SugarCRM now has a plug in got LinkedIn.

Commercial open-source CRM (customer relationship management) vendor SugarCRM said Monday it will give customers the ability to plug in feeds from third-party data sources like the business social-networking site LinkedIn.

This new feature comes with the new SugarCRM 5.2 release coming out this month.

According to Martin Schneider, director of product marketing at SugarCRM, it’s all about keeping users in a CRM context and bringing content into the CRM.

As a result LinkedIn data can be imported into SugarCRM and pop-ups with relevant user-information will appear.

More about this month’s SugarCRM release.

December 1, 2008

SaaS grows, SaaS CRM flourishes, CRM Integration Becomes Easy

Filed under: Data Integration, Data Migration, EAI, Open Source — Alena Semeshko @ 6:11 am

I’m sure you’ve already heard how Gartner forecasts the worldwide enterprise Software as a Service market to jump up to $6.4 billion this year, up 27% from 2007. Moreover, the company estimates the market will reach $14.8 billion in 2012. Among the reasons for such progress are:

*the tough economy (ironically, yea?),
*better broadband,
*and a need to rapidly deploy software to meet a specific business need.

Gartner’s research director, Sharon Mertz, notes that on-demand services have gained popularity and matured, diminishing the widespread initial concerns over security, response time, and service availability.

David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor, recently wrote an article on customer relationship management delivered via SaaS, particularly on SugarCRM.

He calls SugarCRM the primary open source SaaS option and discusses a few of its new features from the latest release. The cool thing about open source in terms of CRM is that tools to link the data from any other systemare more abundant and, as a rule, not that complicated in use.

Apatar, for instance, excludes manual coding once and for all in terms of synchronizing data between SugarCRM and other applications:

sugarcrm-screen.PNG

The application’s drag-and-drop interface allows this type of data migration from/to and synchronization with SugarCRM to be carries out by literally anyone.

November 21, 2008

A Single View of Enterprise Data Management

I just stumbled upon this article by Ajay Bhargava on BeyeNetworks. The article explores the recent trend of closer alliance between enterprise data management (EDM) and data warehousing/business intelligence. I quite liked the way Mr. Bhargava doesn’t leave out such fundamental components of enterprise data as data quality, metadata, data security, data governance, etc.

Here’s his vision of the key component that make up EDM and the fields that benefit from them:

November 12, 2008

Improve Performance, Integrate Enterprise and Desktop Applications

Filed under: Data Integration, EAI — Alena Semeshko @ 6:35 am

A recent Aberdeen report found that companies struggle with a high proportion of non-productive time. The report suggests that six hours per employee per week could be reclaimed for productive contribution.

Some of the strategies Aberdeen recommended to fight non-productive time spendings included data integration across the enterprise, desktop-to-enterprise integration, adoption of web applications etc.

I’d also say that pre-built solutions, which automatically do half of the work for you could help raise the productivity. If on average your integration project would take months and might lead to huge data losses, or simply fail, with pre-built solutions you can avoid all that trouble.

October 20, 2008

The Dos and Don’ts of Data Integration

Filed under: Data Cleansing, Data Integration, Data Migration, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, EAI, ETL — Alena Semeshko @ 2:25 am

Don’t waste time and resources on creating what’s already there.
Extracting and normalizing customer data from multiple sources is the biggest challenge with client data management, according to the Aberdeen Group. OK, true, a lot of companies consider linking and migrating customer information between databases, files and applications a sticky, if not risky, process to deal with. Gartner says corporate developers spend approximately 65 percent of their effort building bridges between applications. That much! No wonder they risk losing lots and lots of data, not even mentioning the time and efforts this may involve. Why spend time on creating what’s already there?

Do
Find an integration provider that suits you. There are plenty of vendors. Of course, there isn’t a universal integrator that would suit everyone, as each tries to cover a a certain area and solve a particular problem. So, you just need to spend a bit of time looking for the right vendor.

Don’t let expenses frighten you.
In today’s enterprises, most data integration projects never get built. Why? Because most companies consider the ROI (Return on Investment) on the small projects simply too low to justify bringing in expensive middleware. Yeah, so you have your customer data in two sources and want to integrate (or synchronize). But then you think “Hey, it costs too much, I might as well leave everything as it is. It worked up till now, it’ll work just as well in the future.” Then after a while you find yourself lost between the systems, the data they contain, trying to figure which information is more up-to-date and accurate? Guess what? You’re losing again.

Do
If ROI is an issue, consider open source software. With open source data integration tools you could have your pie and eat it too. Open source can offer a cost-effective visual data integration solutions to the companies that previously found proprietary data integration, ETL, and EAI tools expensive and complicated.

Not having to pay license fees for BI and data integration software should make companies previously scared of insufficient ROI return to the data integration market.

June 2, 2008

Implementing SaaS CRM - best practices

Filed under: EAI — Alena Semeshko @ 12:51 am

I recently came across an article that named 5 best practices for implementing SaaS CRM applications.

Considering the recent growth of interest towards SaaS applications in general, no wonder “a late 2007 survey of 1,017 software IT decision-makers at North American and European enterprises found that SaaS adoption is growing at double-digit rates.” (May 2008 Forrester’s “Best Practices: The Smart Way To Implement CRM” report)

As popular as SaaS is and as much as it’s being adopted, there’re still pitfalls. To avoid these, the Forrester analysts identify the following best practices for companies to keep in mind:

1. Build the Right Business Case.

2. Negotiating the Right Contract

Contracts can be tricky and cause customers to complain, especially when it comes to the following points:

1. Hidden cost drivers.
2. Unexpected service outages.
3. Declines in customer support.
4. Obscure disaster recovery procedures.

3. Follow the Right Implementation Approach.

4. Adopt the Right Data Security Procedures.

5. Establish the Right Support Structure.

If all SaaS vendors cleaned up these 5 areas of their company’s lifecycle, the customers would be much happier, and the corporate world in general would become even more SaaSy =)

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