IBMs Long-Awaited Software Taps Data Integration Research

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-01-20 Print this article Print

IBM is gearing up to release the first product from its years-long Xperanto data integration research project for beta testing next quarter.

IBM is gearing up to release the first product from its years-long Xperanto data integration research project for beta testing next quarter.

The as-yet-unnamed software will enable, for example, call center representatives to access and change customer information in real time from multiple sources, an IBM spokeswoman confirmed last week. The application will tap different data types, such as e-mail messages, enterprise application data, purchase orders and photos.

Delivery dates of this first Xperanto product wont be determined before next quarter, the spokeswoman said, but it is expected to be generally available by the end of the year.

Xperanto is a data integration technology that relies on XML and XQuery searching technologies to tie together any type of data from any source, leaving that data in whatever database or application it natively resides. It will allow users of IBM software to move from storing all data in a single, consolidated database to accessing data in a kind of virtual database that federates data from multiple sources.

The Xperanto product follows in line with IBMs On Demand computing initiative, a concept of IT infrastructure that has four characteristics: integrated systems, open- standards software, virtualized software that allows more efficient use of IT resources, and autonomic or self-managing systems.

Nelson Mattos, IBMs director of information integration, said Xperanto is about helping businesses cope with the need to integrate.

"Companies go through mergers and acquisitions; theyre doing more and more transactions over the Web; theyre deploying solutions from multiple companies like SAP [AG and so on] that create islands of information that needs to be brought together," said Mattos, in San Jose, Calif. "The best approach to bring it together is the notion of a federated database, with its ability to manage information anywhere its stored, in any format, so that a customer has an integrated view of the information."

While some analysts wonder if the company can deliver on its promised support for structured and unstructured data, some users think IBM has already put its money where its mouth is.

"IBMs attitude is, Put the data wherever you want it—well go get it and help you manage it," said David Beulke, president-elect of the International DB2 Users Group, in Alexandria, Va. "DB2, with its user-defined data types, XML Extender, Data Links, triggers and stored procedures, lets you leave your data where it is and manage it from DB2."

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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