IBM Unleashes Hawk and Serrano Information Integration Tools

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-06-23

IBM Unleashes Hawk and Serrano Information Integration Tools

IBM on Thursday will reveal the first fruits of its acquisition of Ascential Software as it opens a beta for Project Hawk and Project Serrano, the two new stars of its information integration portfolio.

This covers two new products: IBM Rational Data Architect and IBM WebSphere Information Analyzer. Big Blue is also rolling out updates to four of its WebSphere Information Integration products for integrating unstructured and structured information.

Rational Data Architect is a set of tools for data modeling and database design based on structure and content discovery and mapping.

Built on the open-source Eclipse development platform, the tool provides discovery, mapping and analysis of multiple sources, which IBM is promising will simplify and automate information integration in complex environments.

Practically everybody in the Java world is supporting Eclipse, but Sun has vowed to continue to innovate around NetBeans. Click here to read more.

Ascential previously referred to the second new product, WebSphere Information Analyzer, as "Project Sorcerer."

The tool, designed for use by business and data analysts, provides end-to-end data profiling, auditing and analysis.

It shares a central repository with WebSphere DataStage and WebSphere QualityStage, allowing immediate metadata sharing and traceability across those products.

WebSphere Information Analyzer also introduces a new user interface that IBM calls "revolutionary."

Soon to be rolled out across the entire information integration platform, the new interface includes more than 100 new software inventions and features a task-driven design along with best practices to streamline processes.

It also has the ability to dynamically adapt to user interactions, offering a methodology-driven user experience.

Nelson Mattos, vice president of information integration for IBM, said that the two new products, together with updates to four other information integration offerings, will "dramatically" simplify information interaction tasks.

"Were delivering a foundation for a unified user experience," he said, "with the same interface and the same tooling, and the customer will be able to use all the components of the portfolio."

IBM is also working to deliver the foundation for a common master data infrastructure, Mattos said—one that gives customers the ability to better understand what information they have and to take advantage of it across the Information Integrator platform.

"The consequence … is a breakthrough in terms of productivity benefits for individuals who are managing the information … and who are modeling it or administering Information Integrator solutions," he said. As such, he said, IBM is delivering benefits to all levels: the business user, the application developer, the data architect and the administrator.

Next Page: Updates to other Information Integrator tools.

Updates to Other Information

Integrator Tools">

The second major benefit of the integration of Ascential technology is significant enhancements in terms of quality and precision of information, which has improved customer confidence when it comes to using information provided by Information Integrator, he said.

"It basically provides ways for customers to discover relationships as they exist between different sources, to allow ongoing data quality analysis and lineage of the data, to allow you to better control levels of quality in real time, as well as to understand that you have an underlying Information Integrator infrastructure," Mattos said.

A third benefit is to address data growth, as enterprises support more and more data sources, more types of information, and a huge increase in the volume of information they can integrate, Mattos said.

"This is particularly important in areas such as regulatory compliance, where [enterprises] have to keep large amounts of data for years and have to integrate and find information in a huge amount of data [theyre] maintaining," he said. IBM is addressing that situation with enhancements in terms of data privacy and integrity, as well as providing an open, extensible architecture that can allow partners to plug in industry-specific components to address specific regulatory requirements.

"A big requirement were seeing is customers that are, for example, archiving e-mail and have to maintain [it] to address compliance requirements for many years," he said. "The volume of data were talking about is millions and million of e-mails. Also they need to find the information within those archives."

With the Hawk and Serrano release, enterprises will be able to deal with an unlimited amount of information with regards to storage, integration, search and retrieval, he said.

For more on participating in the open beta for these new products, which started last month, check out IBMs site.

Beyond the open beta for these two new products, IBM is updating IBM WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition and Content Edition, IBM WebSphere DataStage, and IBM WebSphere QualityStage.

The update to OmniFind features enhanced quality for precise and relevant search results and collections, extended reach to provide enterprise-wide search capabilities, and flexibility to integrate with existing security infrastructures.

It also provides an open, extensible framework for text analytics based on the IBM UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture), which allows interoperability of text analytics from both IBM as well as business partners, enabling the development of advanced, domain-specific and industry-specific applications.

Next Page: Analysts much happier with IBMs once-murky metadata story.

Analysts Much Happier with

IBMs Once-Murky Metadata Story">

The update to Information Integrator Content Edition features enhancements on unstructured content sources to further expose unique repository capabilities while retaining source integrity.

The DataStage update features metadata enhancements designed to improve developer productivity and enable fast data flow creation for populating data warehouses. The latest version also features better performance and scalability.

The WebSphere QualityStage update is designed to deliver greater developer productivity with interactive visual design of data quality rules and instant feedback to allow developers more control over fine-tuning of quality logic.

Each of these four products will be commercially available in the fourth quarter.

At least one analyst found the Ascential technology "pretty impressive."

Tony Baer, an analyst with onStrategies, said that up until this point, EII (enterprise information integration) competitor Informatica Corp. would always beat IBM over the head with the fact that it grew its tools organically.

Informaticas tools came from the same engine and all shared the same metadata, which was "mostly but not all true," Baer said.

"With Hawk, [IBM/Ascential] is saying, Weve done it," Baer said. "And they have a cool front end as well."

More to the point, analysts are much happier now with IBMs metadata story, which was murky for some time.

"Now the metadata engine is part of the product, instead of a separate engine that needs to be synchronized to and linked to," Baer said.

"The core metadata engine is in each product, which includes classic ETL [extraction, transformation and loading], also data quality and data profiling, all off the same metadata engine. You dont have to sync to it."

Click here for more on what made analysts so unhappy about IBMs formerly missing metadata story.

The point is, Baer said, when youre working in a tool—say, youre developing a data extraction routine—you dont want to reinvent the wheel every time.

If youre looking at source Y, you want to know what target it deals with, what parameters you run it under, and what documentation you might want to put in about when and why you run it, for example.

Before IBMs integration, Ascential had a bunch of separate tools, for data movement, data staging, etc. Youd click the update button to get the latest information from DataStage, then it would deliver results, so youd have to push a button and get that stuff somewhere else.

Click here to read IBMs Nelson Mattos on how IBMs metadata story has jelled.

That meant that the quality of the metadata engine depended on who was using it, Baer said.

By integrating and automating the tools, you finally dont have to worry about the people who are responsible for updating it.

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