Enosys puts liquid in Liquid Data

When BEA Systems made a big splash with its Liquid Data announcement earlier this month, not much was said about the secret technology sauce underpinning the integration initiative. But this week, the key ingredient is under wraps no more.

Startup Enosys Software Inc., a self-described enterprise information integration (EII) company, revealed this week that its suite of XML- and XQuery-based products is the driving force behind Liquid Data's promise of real-time, transparent melding of data from multiple back-end sources to a single external target.

Under the terms of their technology agreement, BEA will OEM components of Enosys' product suite, including the core XQuery Engine, XQuery Builder front-end design tool and metadata repository, to build into its WebLogic application server platform. This lineup will allow users to search for and aggregate data located in any format across silos of sources in the enterprise, according to Raj Pai, vice president of product marketing for Enosys, based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

"Liquid Data has been a concept at BEA for some time now, but they have been trying to figure out the requirements needed to do it both internally and externally," Pai said. "Our commitment to open standards and J2EE, plus our scalability was our big differentiator [from other EII vendors considered]."

BEA sees Liquid Data as providing visibility to front-end applications such as those in customer service or portals, for example.

The EII concept is gaining steam with a number of large vendors, namely IBM with its Xperanto initiative and Microsoft with its forthcoming Yukon release of SQL Server, as a way to unify reams of data floating around the enterprise. The field is also crowded with pure plays such as Enosys, as well as MetaMatrix, Nimble Technology, and others.

Approaches to EII vary from XML querying to data modeling, but they all hang their hat on real-time information access, claiming to eliminate the need to physically upload and centralize data, as done with ETL tools for data warehousing or content management databases. Instead, EII leaves data where it is, leveraging metadata repositories across multiple back-end sources to pull information transparently into new applications or portals.

Several observers described EII as providing a single " database veneer" for what is actually a system of virtual, federated databases.

Enosys' model leverages XQuery, a proposed W3C standard for accessing, transforming, and integrating data from disparate sources.

Pai said Enosys is finding four main drivers behind EII demand: Failed CRM implementations due to disconnected customer data; the growing market around business activity monitoring of processes in real time; the desire to extend back-end packaged apps through into Web-based portals; and finally, the need to drill down for greater data detail than traditional OLAP can provide.

Yet, some industry analysts are cautioning that companies pushing EII initiatives need to spell out in greater detail how EII is going to be managed when legions of users start pinging the enterprise for data, including how to provide user access and authentication, load balancing, and performance.