IBM Forms Information Integration Leadership Board

Group will work closely in tandem with IBM to define and solve emerging data integration issues plaguing customer IT environments.

IBM has assembled a dozen of its top customers from a variety of vertical industry arenas to form the IBM Information Integration Leadership Board, a group that will work closely in tandem with IBM to define and solve emerging data integration issues plaguing customer IT environments.

The new board will meet regularly throughout the year to preview new business technology originating in IBMs Labs, as well as offer feedback and personal insight upon product investment, designs and prioritization best suited to automate the flow of information involving heterogeneous database and OS platforms, said Nelson Mattos, director of Information Integration, for Armonk, NY-based IBM.

Members of the Information Integration Leadership Board include Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., Kawasaki Motors Corporation USA, Ingram Micro Inc., and Taikang Life Insurance Co. Ltd, to name a few. Mattos said the board is expected to grow over time.

Underscoring IBMs commitment to push out its DB2 Information Integrator product in conjunction with the board that bears its name, key marketing and partnering companies of the initiative will receive an IBM developer as a direct contact and available resource.

Introduced last year, DB2 Information Integrator allows customers to access and manipulate a common data model across multiple XML, Web or content areas as if it were a single source. Components of the product include a Replication Server for Mixed relational Databases, a Federated Data Server and a Local Database Server.

For some board members, such as Victor Martinez, manager of Data Administration and Information Access for Irvine, Calif.-based Kawasaki, there is no reluctance to call on IBM with non-IBM technology issues affecting data movement in his enterprise.

"Honestly, many of the (data integration) problems IBM is trying to solve, we have. So with that, I realize theres some real opportunity here for us not only to take advantage of this technology but help further advance it," said Martinez. "Were growing with leaps and bounds from a distributed standpoint so theres a disconnect there. Weve lost pretty much touch to where the information is."

Kawasaki is wrestling with a new same-day shipping and package system that allows the companys warehouses across the United States to become more responsive and accurate in shipments and inventory. "We need to be able to pull data and move it around and be responsive in that way. We found that just to keep up with business needs, we have to bring up these sources of information, whether structured or not, very quickly," added Martinez.

Martinez has acknowledged that IBM is interested in penetrating Kawasakis IT environment more deeply. Currently, his shop runs IBM zOS on the mainframe and uses Microsoft Windows NT 2000 servers, as well as Microsoft SQL Server for its distributed systems.