IBM Is on Its

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-05-12 Print this article Print

Way to Becoming the Market Leader"> Following its acquisition of Ascential, IBM is well on its way to becoming the leader in the data integration market. "[The acquisition] underscores a broader market trend that eschews siloed data management activities (e.g., ETL, EAI, EII, data quality, data profiling) in favor of an integrated information management strategy," writes Mark Beyer, an analyst with Gartner Inc. "Once this acquisition is fully integrated … IBM will emerge as a leading provider of such a platform." Thats because Ascential is further along the road toward melding technical metadata with plain English, business-process metadata.
But, customers and analysts say, even Ascential hasnt yet gotten over the gobbledygook stage, and nobody knows quite how far its next-generation tool set, "Hawk," will get, either.
"In my experience, with the metadata tools Ascential has, thats great for the guy who has to maintain the processes," Siegel said. "For business users, its gobbledygook. Its database-speak. Its talking about an ETL process. Youre not talking about a business process. "Theres a distinction between what [IBM] calls metadata and what they call metadata," he said. "Im not saying the latter isnt valuable. Im saying their suite of tools do not address that. I dont know anybody who does now." Has IBM bitten off more than it can integrate? Click here to read Lisa Vaas column. Will IBMs "Hawk" portfolio address the disconnect? Siegel thinks not. "It sounds good," he said. "But come in to an enterprise as big as Pfizer. Its not going to happen. Not quickly. I suppose its possible. With the right amount of time and money, anything can be done." Much of the problem, to Siegels mind, lies in the need to apply metadata logic on the fly. "Some [of the metadata] is esoteric and business-specific and hard to apply," he said. "That said, I think [Ascentials DataStage] toolset is excellent at doing those kinds of things." Still, DataStage isnt addressing events in real time, Siegel said. "You can make DataStage real time, but thats only great for fairly small things, to move things around. Its great for automation, for usability, but you couldnt call it quote-unquote at run time. Somebody goes into a Web page and wants to summarize a gig of data. Youre not going to do that at runtime. Nobodys going to find their way around the slowness of a drive." There will always be a place where you have to do some caching so somebody can find the data in a reasonable amount of time, Siegel said. Whether its an internal table or what have you, there will always be a middle piece with large data sets. That said, Ascentials DataStage has been a pioneer in making things that were once batch-driven become service-oriented, Siegel said. Hence, hes planning to do what many data-integration aficionados are planning to do: cross his fingers about IBM staying on track to integrate Hawk, remind IBM that Ascential overinvested in development, vote for IBM keeping development staff and management in place, and hope for the best. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

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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