Ipedo’s Exotic Elixir: XML + EII = Decision-Making Nirvana?
What’s the big to-do about an XML-optimized EII platform? Plenty, says Ipedo
What’s the big to-do about an XML-optimized enterprise information integration (EII) platform? Plenty, says EII specialist Ipedo Inc., which markets XIP, an XML-optimized database product with canned EII capabilities, to boot.
Ipedo has a dog in this race, of course: its business model. But veteran analyst Wayne Kernochan, a senior IT advisor with consultancy Illuminata, recently took a look at XIP and its exotic combination of XML and EII capabilities. He came away impressed by what he saw.
For one thing, Kernochan notes, XIP provides an XML-savvy data repository and a mid-tier, EII-aware operational data store.
"This enables innovative deployments such as intelligent information management, virtual operational store, master data management, and on-demand intelligence," Kernochan observes. "While XIP may not scale up to match the largest of enterprise data warehouses, SAP implementations, and order-entry OLTP systems, it seems quite well suited to per-project enterprise needs and midsized-company strategies."
Admittedly, Kernochan says, Ipedo and XIP have in the past been a tough sell. "Originally, Ipedo was technology-push—a database optimized for XML data trying to figure out who would want a database optimized for XML data. That is a common question among specialist technologies," he concedes. "However, Ipedo hung around long enough that customers started realizing that they did in fact need data engines optimized for XML, and long enough to notice that add-ons to Ipedo constituted an EII … solution."
Just why is there a market for XML-optimized databases with canned EII? Kernochan counts the ways—starting first with the rapid rise of master data management (MDM), which "wants a core operational data store … plus EII so that multiple separate data stores with different customer records can yield real-time information without constantly downloading updates to the ODS."
Scenarios abound, in fact: there’s a straight-up ODS; a straight up EII tool; and a combined mid-tier EII and ODS tool. There’s also what Kernochan calls a "virtual operational store," which can be used to power real-time dashboard views for CEOs and other C-level executives. Such Virtual ODSes frequently consume semi-structured information, which is ideally suited for XML storage (and easily interrogated via XQuery), according to Kernochan.
Elsewhere, XIP can comprise a better alternative to XML-native relational databases (such as RDBMS offerings from IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., or Oracle Corp.) in cases where "purer" XML databases are needed, Kernochan argues.
Of course, there’s the prevailing view that XML databases aren’t seen as scalable as their relational (or XML-native relational) counterparts, but even this isn’t much of a deal-breaker, Kernochan suggests.
"Even the fact that XML databases are not seen as ‘enterprise scalable’ … is no barrier, given that the developer-friendliness and cross-database-vendor flexibility of EII make Ipedo a reasonable alternative for querying across data types and database vendors," he comments.
And that’s the crux of XIP’s value proposition, according to Kernochan: it doesn’t excel at either XML database-ing or EII-ing—but it’s one of the few extant tools which does both. "[W]hen the buyer can get an XML database, an EII tool, and a combination of the two in the same package, anything on the spectrum between ‘all mid-tier ODS’ and ‘all EII’ is a potential use case. That makes Ipedo a lot more valuable than a product that is ‘just an XML database’ or ‘just an EII tool,’ Kernochan avers. "Ipedo is alone in this niche: Ipedo is notable for being the only XML database that advertises its EII capabilities."
In the final analysis, says Kernochan, the combination of a mid-tier ODS and EII technology can deliver real and substantive dividends. "[T]he result is a better way to access up-to-the-minute, synchronized data [which is] key for high-quality [decision-making]," he concludes. "The user superimposes the ODS [and] EII combination on top of existing operational databases. The ODS cherry-picks key business data from the operational databases, and allows updates to both operational databases and ODS that are immediately reflected to the other; or, EII queries "near-real-time" changes to data that can’t be fitted in the ODS."
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.