Jitterbit reveals open source data integration tool

Another entry joins a growing group of open source alternatives to proprietary offerings from the likes of IBM, SAS, and Informatica

Data-integration vendor Jitterbit is releasing the 2.0 version of its platform on Monday, adding another entry to a growing group of open source alternatives to proprietary offerings from the likes of IBM, SAS, and Informatica.

Jitterbit provides a set of connectors to major enterprise applications and databases but also runs a marketplace where customers can buy and sell completed integrations.

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The marketplace site underscores a key value of applying the open source model to data integration, said CEO Sharam Sasson. "The biggest challenge in integrating data is not just mapping bits and bytes, but really understanding these systems," he said. "That domain expertise, we don't have. It's in the heads of the community."

Jitterbit makes its money on support; a typical deal is in the $20,000-per-year range, company officials said.

For the 2.0 release, Jitterbit placed particular emphasis on the user interface, creating a new visual, drag-and-drop workflow designer for creating and testing integrations.

The 2.0 release also introduces parallel processing for moving larger amounts of data. For example, an IT shop might want to load 100,000 leads into Salesforce.com from a campaign management system, but Salesforce places a limit on the number of records that can be delivered in a single transmission, according to CTO Ilan Sehayek.

Jitterbit can now "chunk" the data into multiple concurrent calls. "Salesforce can handle many calls, it just doesn't want them to be large," Sehayek said.

Other open source data integration vendors include Talend, XAware, and SnapLogic, which also has a community site and is building a library of completed connectors and pipelines.

"The integration problem is a really terrific candidate for open source, not only from the development side but the business perspective," said SnapLogic CEO Chris Marino. That's because data integration today requires connectivity with a wide range of sources, and it is too expensive to rely on a vendor or integrator to provide every connection, he said.

SnapLogic offers a free community edition under the GPL v2 open source license, as well as commercial versions. But it is not attempting to compete with major proprietary players like Informatica, which was co-founded by SnapLogic's chairman Gaurav Dhillon, he said.

Informatica makes software that has "been tuned mightily to move vast amounts of data, to do all the things people need to do to build data warehouses for [business intelligence]," Marino said. SnapLogic has instead "focused on the problem of integrating on the Web."

To that end, these vendors don't necessarily pose an immediate threat to established players, but are finding a niche, according to one industry observer.

"I see a lot more open source data integration vendors than customers today, but do believe these tools can offer add value for certain types of customers," said Rob Karel, an analyst with Forrester Research, via e-mail.

The tools are best suited for "midmarket companies with less complex requirements and smaller budgets, or departmental or project-based initiatives within larger enterprises," he said.

NASA's Integrated Services Environment (NISE) is using Jitterbit to handle data integration needs in its identity management infrastructure, pushing information from sources like human resources systems to enterprise directories, said project manager Sharon Ing. "It's all about ID management and provisioning of credentials."

Ing's group manages about 150,000 identities. Officials tested systems from large vendors before settling on Jitterbit, she said.

The tool is easy to use -- albeit for technically savvy people -- and its "cost was certainly attractive to us," she said.

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