IBM announces WebSphere Data Integration Suite

IBM, which closed its US$1.1 billion acquisition of Ascential Software last week, Wednesday unveiled the first product suite from the combined company and detailed plans for folding in Ascential's integration and data-cleansing technology.

Company officials announced WebSphere Data Integration Suite, which will be IBM's release of the integration platform Ascential had code-named Hawk. The software, which IBM plans to make available to beta users within six weeks, will include a new user interface, new metadata profiling and enhanced linkage between Ascential's DataStage TX transactional and operational data-integration software and IBM's WBI Message Broker, officials said. The suite is slated to ship this fall.

"This is the next-generation platform for information integration with major, major enhancements to useability," said Janet Perna, IBM's general manager of information management. "It opens up this integration environment to end users ... to be able to more easily access the information they need."

Future product integration plans call for IBM to provide a converged set of tools based on Eclipse for WBI and DataStage TX and a single repository architecture--including metadata discovery, exchange and management--that will span existing IBM products, Perna added. IBM also plans to offer a set of connectors that companies can use across WebSphere Information Integrator, WebSphere Business Integration and Ascential technologies. IBM did not provide specific dates for the future additions.

The Ascential technology will allow companies to extract value from data that today can be inaccessible because it was created as part of technology silos, Perna explained.

"A lot of time and money is spent in companies in just managing this information," she said. "Forty percent of people's time is spent integrating information. Helping companies simplify this environment requires more than traditional relational database technology."

John Jaye, first vice president at ABN Amro Holding, a financial services firm based in Amsterdam, said at the event that he is encouraged that IBM preserved the Hawk product. ABN uses DataStage TX to integrate with its customers and partner banks to support global payment transactional processing. For example, when ABN recently changed its wire transfer system, DataStage TX allowed the company to modify just 10 existing internal interfaces to the system while insulating the other 35 from the changes, he said.

"The high-level road map seems solid," Jaye said, adding that IBM's plans to use Ascential technology to help it integrate some of its other software products could benefit his company. ABN Amro uses WebSphere Application Server and IBM MQSeries.

"As those get tied more seamlessly to the Ascential legacy products, that will open up more possibilities for us," Jaye said in an interview. "We want to integrate with our customers without them doing a lot of work. We're looking at all the synergies that come out of this to help us accomplish that."

Even so, Jaye called for more details on how IBM will dovetail the product lines of the two companies.

Kris Williams, program manager of electronic commerce at SkyWorks Solutions, a semiconductor company, also said he is encouraged that IBM is continuing Ascential's plans for the Hawk platform. SkyWorks, formerly Alpha Industries, used Ascential's DataStage TX to help integrate its e-commerce systems with those from Conexant when the companies merged in 2002, Williams said during a panel discussion at the event.

"I wanted a single face to the companies, but we had two streams of data coming in," he said. "I had to make sure ... in telling our customers they could make an order once (that) we wouldn't suffer any downtime or disrupt our business."

Williams said later in an interview that he would like to see IBM expand the integration between DataStage and other IBM products.

"We'd like to see ... integration between products like Domino, Lotus Notes and DataStage," he said. "It sounds like they are trying to get there."

IBM Information Integration Road Map

Platform integration today includes:

- An Ascential transformation library callable from WebSphere Information Integrator and WebSphere Business Integration

- A unifying service-oriented architecture across WebSphere Information Integration, WebSphere Business Integration and Ascential technology

- Metadata exchange with Ascential MetaBroker for DB2 cube views

Current integration priorities:

- Release next-generation Ascential Hawk software in 2005

- Enhance linkage between Ascential DataStage TX and WBI Message Broker

- Enhance business intelligence, business transformation and master data management synergies

Future integration plans:

- A converged set of tools based on Eclipse

- Integrated metadata discovery, exchange and management

- Connectors that can be used across WebSphere Information Integrator, WebSphere Business Integration and Ascential technology

- Transformation services to be used across Ascential and IBM disciplines

Source: IBM

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