Customer Data Integration Efforts Driving ETL Growth

Established ETL purveyors must increasingly compete against database vendors for market share, though no vendor consolidation is forecast.

If research firm META Group is right, there’s both good and bad in store for ETL vendors in 2004. While modest ETL growth is expected to resume this year—driven largely by customer data integration efforts—established ETL purveyors must increasingly compete against database vendors for market share.

Microsoft Corp. first introduced ETL functionality—dubbed SQL Server Data Transformation Services (DTS)—in its SQL Server 7.0 database, which shipped more than six years ago. Since then, Oracle Corp. has followed suit, while IBM Corp. provides data integration software for its DB2 database in its Information Integrator offering.

In a recent ETL marketplace report, META Group analyst Doug Laney projects that the ETL adoption rate will grow by between 10 and 20 percent over the next three to five years, with the market for ETL services posting similar gains. "However, due to price pressure from DBMS vendors offering increasingly competitive offerings at bundled prices, the financial growth of this market will be in the 5%-15% range, annually,” said Laney, in a statement.

Over this period, META Group does not expect the ETL market itself to consolidate; instead, second-tier ETL players will increasingly team up with business intelligence vendors. The first-tier ETL powers, such as Ascential Corp., Informatica Corp., and SAS Institute Inc., will either absorb or build out enterprise application integration technology along with other forms of data integration.

META Group’s ETL Tools report assayed 13 of the largest ETL vendors and found that Ascential and SAS had tied for the top spot. This is important, if only because the research found that ETL buyers have demonstrated a preference for market leaders—to the extent, META Group says, that they’re even willing to make architectural concessions to embrace such leaders.

ETL market leaders typically offer mature products with some degree of parallelization and connectivity into virtually any data source, the research firm says, along with robust development environments. Many ETL market challengers, on the other hand, are largely subsisting on their install bases, while many are searching for a buyer to acquire either them or their technology assets.

Among challengers, META Group says that Business Objects—which introduced a new version 6.5 release of its Data Integrator product earlier this month—is viewed as having the strongest expertise.

Elsewhere, META Group cited Oracle, DataMirror, and Sunopsis for the intelligence features that they’re building into their ETL offerings to accelerate data source mapping and other tasks. The research firm continues to rank Microsoft as a challenger, but noted that because of the software giant’s large installed base and attractive pricing (DTS is a free add-on for SQL Server), Microsoft could become a market force to be reckoned with by 2005 or 2006.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.