What Lies Beneath
But for IT managers, whats beneath the pretty search engine mattersa lot. "For IT folks, it means, as with any product, you have to get to know the underlying architecture of the product youre getting and what level of integration" it will have, Baer said. "Will the integration be at the metadata level? If so, how detailed is the metadata? Does it come under a common shell, or do you have to go out to different shells under different programs?" This is important. The more things that are common, the fewer things you have to learn. If all products acquired by IBM come in under a common shell, its a lot easier to learn than different programs, Baer said. If its a federation of programs, sharing a common interface but running different engines under each product, life is hard.Mattos addressed this point during a question and answer session following Pernas presentation and a panel presentation of customers and data integration experts."[The portfolio] is integrated in many different places," he said. "At the metadata level, at run-time with autonomic capabilities Its integrated in the end user point of view: one for the business analyst and one for the application developer, etc. However, our vision is not to have full integration at the run-time, because that would require the customer to rip and replace the run-time that they have." In other words, Mattos said, IBMs solution trumps that of Oracle Corp. in that IBM lets data reside wherever it wants to. As it is, the next version of WebSphere Information Integrator, code-named Hawk, will deliver improved integration. Of particular note is the ability to share metadata between the suites tools, thus eliminating redundant metadata discovery. Still, Mattos said, the Information Management division is working toward common capabilities across its portfolio. "One of the things weve heard today is about increased investment in research and development," Mattos said. "As a result, not only are we delivering the Hawk release, we also added capabilities in both releases to improve integration of both products. "The initiative around Autonomic Computing started with DB2," Mattos said. "When I think about [Pernas] vision the vision we have, the information infrastructure becomes one thing. The picture I showed of information infrastructure is one layer that simplifies all of the information assets companies deal with. What I would like, at some time, is the ability to administer this environment with a common set of capabilities. Today if you look at Content Manager its a little different from DB2 capabilities, which are a little different from Information Integrator capabilities. What Id like to see is bringing all the pieces I have together." Speaking of bringing pieces together, who exactly owns the new products that IBM keeps acquiring? Is the Ascential technology under the DB2 brand or the WebSphere brand? IBM has labeled it WebSphere, but Pernas heading-up of the effort shouts "DB2." Perna shook her head and laughed as she tackled that question. Why? Its a question that IBM gets often. Thats because, up until recently, IBM as a company was as siloed as the disparate content repositories its attempting to integrate with its current crop of tools. "In the old days, each area of IBM would be a separate universe," said Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz Associates and the moderator of IBMs customer and expert panel. "Youd see one group competing with another." Luckily for customers, thats changed. "Whats changed over the last three years is each unit provides services to each other," Hurwitz said. "Youre seeing more transfer of knowledge and capability and product between groups. Theres a lot more sharing across business units." Thats important for customers who need to know which throat to choke. Nowadays, Perna said, brands and executive capabilities are blurring together. Wednesdays product news is WebSphere, its business integration, its all things information, and if its information, it resides with Perna. Lisa Vaas is Ziff Davis Internets news editor in charge of operations, aka Conference Goddess. She is also the editor of eWEEK.coms Database and Business Intelligence topic center. She has been with eWEEK and eWEEK.com since 1995, most recently covering enterprise applications and database technology. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.