Still Another Data Integration Independent Acquired

IBM positions the DataMirror acquisition as a coup for its ever-expanding information management portfolio. No surprise there!

Another independent data integration player bites the dust—and in this case, it was a no-brainer. IBM Corp. this week gobbled up DataMirror Corp., a provider of data integration and change data capture (CDC) connectivity solutions for mainframe, minicomputer, and distributed environments.

Over the last two years, the data integration market underwent a period of protracted consolidation, following IBM’s acquisition of the former Ascential Software Corp. and Oracle Corp.’s acquisition of the former Sunopsis.

So what does IBM—which already has a market-leading ETL tool in its WebSphere (nee Ascential) DataStage offering—need with DataMirror’s CDC technology? IBM officials positioned the acquisition as a coup for Big Blue’s ever-expanding information management portfolio, which got a visibility boost earlier this year when IBM announced a new “Dynamic Data Warehousing” push.

“Organizations need the ability to capture and use information in real-time to help them make better business decisions, better serve their customers and increase operational efficiencies,” said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM Information Management, in a statement. “The combination of DataMirror technology and IBM information management software will help customers bring real-time data analysis closer to actual business processes, allowing them to be more competitive and to generate more value from their information.”

Philip Russom, a senior manager with TDWI Research, says the acquisition is, indeed, a coup for IBM. “The announcement that IBM intends to acquire DataMirror reminds us that DataMirror is a real gem among data integration vendors,” he indicates. “It’s regularly listed as one of Canada’s fastest growing technology companies and has differentiated itself by focusing on real-time database replication, instead of the focus on scheduled batch processing seen in ETL tools.”

And in this respect, Russom argues, DataMirror isn’t just another data replication vendor. “The replication tool market is odd, because there’s a big gulf between low-end and high-end replication,” he points out. “For instance, all database management systems have replication built in. But it’s pretty basic stuff, because it only works with that one database brand, and it’s usually for one-way data movement that copies data without transformation, and only between a pair of databases.”

DataMirror offers sophisticated data replication capabilities, according to Russom. “DataMirror supports those rudimentary capabilities, but also advanced ones, like native support for all the leading database brands plus legacy platforms, two-way data synchronization, data transformation, and configurations of many database instances,” he continues. “As you can see, there’s a big difference between basic and advanced replication, and you need more than a database management system to get the advanced features.”

DataMirror’s competitors include Sybase and Golden Gate Software, Russom indicates. He says the company’s CDC technology will be a good fit for IBM’s real-time information management push. “Replication, by nature, works well in real-time,” Russom comments. “After all, replication’s origins are in disaster recovery and database high availability, where you copy every single database transaction in real time as it happens to a mirror—or exact copy of the database—so that the mirror can take over if the main database server crashes.”

Nor is this the extent of DataMirror’s capabilities, according to Russom. “DataMirror supports these kinds of database high-availability applications, but many others, too, like database replicas for reporting or backup, database migrations and consolidations, database-oriented application integration, bidirectional data synchronization, changed data capture, and data transformation and load for real-time data warehousing,” he says. “So, you can use an advanced replication tool like this very broadly—for both analytic and operational purposes—and it addresses real-time requirements more naturally than batch-based data integration tools.”

Of course, with any company as big as IBM—or with any company that’s made as many acquisitions as has Big Blue—there’s bound to be overlap between DataMirror’s and IBM’s own technologies. But Russom doesn’t seem to see an inordinate amount of redundancy—and that, he points out, is a good thing.

“Sure, DataMirror’s integration technology has some overlaps with IBM products like Q Replication and Data Propagator—or whatever they’re called today!—not to mention DB2. But DataMirror is more feature-rich and broadly applicable, so it will greatly expand the data integration options of IBM Information Server,” he concludes. “Besides, a massive customer base like IBM’s has such diverse needs that multiple replication products is fully appropriate.”

DataMirror claims as many as 2,200 customers—including FedEx Ground, First American Bank, Priority Health, Tiffany & Co., and Union Pacific Railroad.

About the Author

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