How Far Has Ascential
Gotten?"> Tony Baer, an analyst with OnStrategies, said that Ascential was just starting in the "Weve-got-a-good-metadata-story" direction when IBM bought the companyalthough how far even Ascential got on the path is questionable. "Ascential had a lot of products to unify; they also grew by acquisition," he said. "Whats its done over the past 1.5 years or so is put together a metadata-driven strategy to coordinate all that stuff. IBM has not started on that path yet. Ascential was not 100 percent done on that path of putting stuff together when it was bought by IBM."On top of the difficulty of data integration sits the difficulty of tying together multiple products into an integrated, easy-to-use suite. IBM Distinguished Engineer and Vice President of Strategy for Information Integration Nelson Mattos said that in Hawk, we can expect an integrated look and feel: one interface, across different technologies, whether its profiling or data quality or something else.Analysts arent so sure. "What they are trying to [solve] is an enormously complex problem," said Charlie Garry, a consultant and former Meta Group analyst. "Im not even talking about the integration of the data; Im talking about the integration of the products." Garry speaks from experience. He headed the field support team at Platinum Technology International Inc., before it was purchased by Computer Associates International Inc. and back when it tried to introduce ProVision, the integration of a number of point products for managing databases and other systems management tasks. Click here to read Lisa Vaas initial, positive take on IBMs ability to integrate all its Software Divisions acquisitions. "They were called frameworks back then," Garry said. "BMC tried to do it with Patrol, and CA tried to do it with UniCenter. The goal was much simpler than what IBM is trying to do. We only tried to wrap a set of common services [event management, common install, product metadata] so that install and maintenance of the tools was easier." Talk to anyone who bought a "framework" even now, Garry said, and youll grasp how difficult product integration can be. "Few ever actually got more than a few pieces workingsort of. Internally there was a great deal of lip service provided to the task of integration by the individual product development labs and divisions within Platinum. This was because they all had to weigh the benefit of actually participating in the integration effort against the distraction it would be for them to continue to sell enough of the point product to meet their individual sales goals and keep their jobs." IBM is no different and, in fact, has a much larger problem due to its size and complexity, Garry said. "They even have issues selling many of their long-time homegrown products [such as DB2 UDB and warehousing] because the main channel [consulting] doesnt know the product." Next Page: Metadata is key to product and data integration.