Monday, March 13, 2006

ETL moves into the database

With SQL Server 2005 Microsoft has replaced its somewhat limited DTS ETL offering with SQL Server Information Services (SSIS), which is compared with IBM's offerings (based on the Ascential acquisition). I have written previously about the shrinking of the ETL vendor space, and the enhanced Microsoft offering will merely accelerate this. Oracle has its Warehouse Builder technology (despite its name this is really an ETL tool) as well as Microsoft and IBM, and as these tools improve it will be tough for the remaining ETL vendors. Informatica has broadened into the general data integration space, and seems to be doing quite well, but there are not many others.

Sunopsis is innovative with its "ELT" approach which sensibly relies on, rather than competes
with, the native DBMS capabilities, but it remains to be seen how long it can flourish, given that the DBMS ETL capabilities will just keep getting better and eat away at its value. The surreal Ab Initio is reportedly doing well at the high volume end, but given its secretive nature it is hard to say anything with certainty about this company other than its business practices and CEO are truly eccentric (a fascinating account of its predecessor Thinking Machines can be found at the following link). Data Junction has a strong reputation and is OEMed by many companies (it is now part of Pervasive Software). There are a few other survivors, like ETI, who have just recapitalised their company after struggling for some years , but it is hard to see how ETL can remain a sustainable separate market in the long term. Indeed Gartner has recently stated that they will are to drop their "magic quadrant" for ETL entirely.

The future of ETL would appear to be in broader offerings, either as part of wider integration software or as just a feature of the DBMS.

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