Data integration technologies that focus on the cloud are the way to go

IT is revisiting its data integration strategies and products because of the cloud; here's what to look for

Every enterprise needs data integration at some point, whether you're talking about simple ETL to move sales transactions from an operational data store to a data warehouse or real-time event-driven integration that supports a fast-paced business. Truth is, in many respects, those wars were fought and won long ago. Many IT organizations have long since created their own integration approaches and list of vendors they use.

But the cloud changes everything.

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The use of cloud computing -- private, public, or hybrid -- means IT is giving data integration technology providers a second look and perhaps a second chance. These days, the newer data integration providers get the ink around their sustained focus on the cloud, and a few older providers are redoing their technologies to address the special needs of cloud computing connections.

Providers are taking a few macro approaches to data integration for cloud computing:

The "do nothing about cloud computing" guys. A few of the much older integration providers consider cloud computing as just another set of systems. They are not doing much to position themselves in that space, other than some press Spin. These are typically hugely expensive and locally hosted technologies that are very feature-rich. If they are in the cloud space, it's often through the acquisition of a separate set of technologies, such as the next two I describe.

The "integration on the cheap" guys. These are typically locally deployed technologies that are priced anywhere from free to $50,000. There are some open source providers here, ESB (enterprise service bus) providers, and a few data integration startups. They support the cloud, but their focus is more on tactical integration. If you find the cloud there, that's fine, but not the point.

The "cloud is everything" guys. These are a mix of new and midsized providers that have taken an all-in approach to cloud computing. These firms provide both on-premise and multitenant cloud-deployed versions of their integration stacks. They are investing heavily in building or maintaining connectors for major cloud providers.

For cloud integration, I'd use the technologies that focus on -- call me crazy -- cloud integration. As cloud computing technology progresses, you'll need somebody to keep up with the changes, and you don't want to use a data integration technology provider that's more concerned about the SAP API changes than the Salesforce.com or Amazon Web Service API changes. These are two very different worlds, and they require a very different focus.

This article, "Data integration technologies that focus on the cloud are the way to go," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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