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Mike Ferguson

Welcome to my blog on the UK Business Intelligence Network. I hope to help you stay in touch with hot topics and reality on the ground in the UK and European business intelligence markets and to provide content, opinion and expertise on business intelligence (BI) and its related technologies. I also would relish it if you too can share your own valuable experiences. Let's hear what's going on in BI in the UK.

About the author >

Mike Ferguson is Managing Director of Intelligent Business Strategies Limited, a leading information technology analyst and consulting company. As lead analyst and consultant, he specializes in enterprise business intelligence, enterprise business integration, and enterprise portals. He can be contacted at +44 1625 520700 or via e-mail at mferguson@intelligentbusiness.biz.

July 2007 Archives

Over the last several months in customer assignments associated with deployment of BI web services and Data Integration web services I keep running into the same problem that everone seems to be struggling with when it comes to implementing a Service Oriented Architecture.

That problem is one of multiple integration stacks. As I consult on a Europe wide basis I find this problem everywhere. Companies want to standardise on a single common set of infrastructure software which includes common BI infrastructure (gradual evolution to common BI platform) and common Business Integration infrastructure (portal, process management, ESB, ESR, single sign-on etc.). Yet as they buy packaged applications particularly from SAP and Oracle and upgrade to Office 2007 only to find SharePoint coming in though another door, they find themselves with multiple software infrastructure stacks in the enterprise and additional complexity they had not planned for. Plugging together multiple stacks was not on the original agenda. Do you recognise this problem?

It seems strange that the attraction of SOA is simplicity and flexibility and yet as you try to get closer to that you end up with more complexity. BI and data integration services in a SOA are much sought after but I found myself recently having to deal with questions like "Which enterprise servive registry should be use for managing BI services?" and also "should we define our business processes on our IBM WebSphere BPM software or the SAP Netweaver BPM software or the Oracle Fusion one?".

There are many more of these kinds of questions that companies are struggling with at present. It seems that vendors are forcing additional infrastructure on enteprises rather than offering flexibility to run on the infrastructure of choice that the customer wants. Yet the business case to executives is that SOA is needed because it facilitates consolidatation of IT infrastructure to reduce complexity and total cost of ownership. As one executive said to me recently "I am struggling to see the benefit". I must admit that I found it difficult to disagree with him


Posted July 31, 2007 9:53 AM
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Yesterdays announcement by IBM on its web site that it has signed an agreement to acquire DataMirror is more evidence that the software giants of the industry are starting to compete for more marketshare in the data management marketplace. In this announcement IBM stated that its intention is to use the DataMirror technology to strengthen its Information Server suite of data management tools particularly in the areas of real-time change data capture, heterogeneous data replication and synchronisation and also high availability.

The trend here is clear and that is that data management tools such as business vocabulary tools (aimed at business users), metadata discovery and mapping tools, data modelling, data profiling and cleansing as well as data integration are all converging into a common platform of tools that have been integrated on a common metadata repository. Why is this needed? The reason is of course that enterprises are pushing for a common toolset for any kind of data management whether it be data consildation for data warehousing and master data management, data federation for on-demand reporting, data replication or data synchronisation. It is a natural thing to expand the use of these tools beyond popular areas like data warehousing into other applicational uses across the enterprise. Even unstructured data integration is now possible. The world of XML data integration is also on the increase including RSS Feeds as a data source. All of this is demanded at lower and lower latency. Data and metadata services in a SOA is a trend but the challenge for most of use is to identify and prioritise business areas that need to exploit these services in order to improve data supply and data flow throughout the enterprise and between enterprises

Also as companies increasingly invest in software as a service (SaaS) offerings it means that access to corporate data housed outside the enterprise is on the increase. Data in SaaS applications needs to be kept consistent with data inside the enterprise and brought back inside the enterprise to integrate with internal operational data if you have an internally hosted data warehouse.


Posted July 17, 2007 3:59 PM
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