Hot on the heels of IBM announcing that it was acquiring Ascential, thus (potentially) uniting its data federation platform WebSphere Information Integrator with Ascential's ETL and EAI capabilities, which was followed by Informatica announcing a partnership with Composite Software, we now have a slew of fresh news.
Specifically, Sybase has acquired Avaki; Cognos and Composite Software (again) have announced a partnership; and Business Objects and Ipedo have also announced a partnership. Note that these are serious partnerships: not simply "my software runs with yours", but reseller agreements, technical partnerships, joint developments and so on. I also know about a number of other inter-vendor discussions that I am not at liberty to disclose right now.
The most recent announcements are very interesting - Cognos and Business Objects because they represent integration with business intelligence environments rather than with other data integration technologies. Of course, they are not the first, since Actuate acquired Nimble technologies nearly two years ago and embedded that functionality into its enterprise reporting solution last year. Nevertheless, Business Objects and Cognos are heavy hitters in the BI space and it suggests that the likes of MicroStrategy and Hyperion will have to do something similar.
Unlike these vendors, SAS has pretty much all of the components already in place for an EII solution. Not only has it got front-end BI tools, it also has an optimiser and it has Information Mapping – it just needs to put this all together in a package.
Sybase is a rather different case and Avaki is not a typical data federation platform. The company used to describe its product as providing "distributed data provisioning, access and integration". In practice, while there is a single set of capabilities that is provided to all users, the product was marketed as providing two related offerings, one of which is an extension to the other.
The first of these is the ability to support data federation. Secondly, Avaki may also be used as a framework for integrating data movement solutions, such as those provided by ETL tools and associated technologies (data profiling, data cleansing and so forth), alongside the native data integration features provided by Avaki. Thus you might choose to implement Avaki simply because you want to use its capabilities for data federation, or you might opt to use it both for this purpose and to allow a collaborative solution that spans multiple data integration disciplines.
There are two other interesting things about Avaki. First, it provides a service oriented architecture with data being provided to requesting applications as a service. Third party ETL and other tools that are integrated with the Avaki platform can also be Web service enabled (where this is not the case anyway) by Avaki. Secondly, Avaki was developed, from the outset, using a grid computing architecture.
So, why would Sybase want to buy Avaki? The company hasn't briefed me, so this is pure speculation, but my guess is that this is not for EII per se. I think that it will integrate Avaki with its replication product (much as WebSphere Information Integrator provides both replication and data federation) to extend that product's capabilities, and I also think that it will use it to enhance its business activity monitoring (BAM) capabilities. If you stop to think about it, there is an obvious synergy between BAM and data federation and, as far as I know, this would make Sybase the first vendor to have such an integrated offering.
However, this is pure guesswork and we shall have to wait to see what they come out with.