How do you go about choosing a CDI vendor? There are a good 50-plus out there, ranging from broad horizontal plays such as Oracles CDH to strong vertical players, as is DWL in the financial sector or IBMs Client Information Integration Solution is in the insurance industry. Analysts in the CDI space say that the market, while immature, is ready to explode, and the best thing for a company to do is to group with other companies in their sector and go for the vendor that really understands their customer issues better than anyone else."If theres someone catering to your vertical, Id jump on that," said Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst with Yankee Group. Oracle has solid examples in high-tech, such as Cisco and Network Appliance, that should give high-tech companies cause to check out CDH, she said.Then again, Piccininno was right-on when he said he was sticking with a vendor with staying power, Kingstone said. "The tradeoff today is the financial viability of the vendor vs. their expertise in their industry," she said. "Ive talked to customers whove gone with a slightly less mature product today because they know that people like Oracle and Siebel will be around for the long term." Is Oracle CDH perfect? No, but there are "no perfect products out there," said Erin Kinikin, a vice president at Forrester Research. Forrester recently went out to 18 reference customers: three each from the top six CDI vendors. Core technology wasnt the issue, she said. "Everybody does pretty well on data management, and some people are better at one thing than another," Kinikin said. One of the weakest areas was, in fact, consulting expertise to get the systems implemented effectively. That, however, is where vendors like Oracle and Siebel excel, she said. Meanwhile, the next enhancement to CDH is due in April, and with it will come great strides in data stewardship facilities, Kinikin said, with better customization and vertical functionality. She talked to a transportation company, for example, that has to track wage and service levels by customer, by location. Other vertical weaknesses: TCA, as robust as it is, needs a way for the customer to teach it about insurance products and transportation rates and other details that help insurance companies treat their customers right, Kinikin said. Vertical capability is Oracles biggest weakness, Kinikin said, but Oracle is already moving to fix that. Witness Oracles recent bid for Retek Inc., maker of retail software. Oracle President Charles Phillips described the hoped-for Retek acquisition as being Phase Two of Oracles master plan, wherein Oracle masters the ability to cater to key verticals. Phase One was getting the back-office applications business in order, and thats where the PeopleSoft acquisition came in. Does the emperor have clothes? He does. Perhaps they are ill-fitting Bermuda shorts in the chilly March winds, but the tailors are already at work to provide a better fit for a variety of clientele. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.