A New Option for Getting Data In and Out of Mainframes

IBM and Oracle aren't the only games in town when it comes to getting data into -- and out of -- mainframe environments.

Mainframe connectivity veteran Attunity Inc. last month announced a new data replication offering -- Attunity Replicate -- that supports DB2 running on z/OS.

It just goes to show, IBM Corp. and Oracle Corp. aren't the only games in town when it comes to getting data into -- and out of -- mainframe environments.

Attunity is no stranger to Big Iron data access. It introduced its Connect data connectivity software 15 years ago, followed by a change-data-capture (CDC) product (now called Attunity Stream) and -- just last month -- unveiled Replicate, its first data replication offering.

Out of the gate, Replicate supports DB2 -- for distributed systems as well as for System i and System z -- Oracle, and SQL Server. Attunity plans to deliver support for non-relational data sources -- such IMS -- in the future.

"We think this [Replicate] will put Attunity on the map as one of the leading providers of data replication," says Itamar Ankorion, vice president of business development and corporate strategy with Attunity. "For the last couple of years, Attunity has been focusing on our CDC technologies. We were one of the pioneers in CDC, specifically of load-the-database CDC. Then we became de facto partners to pretty much all of the other ETL [extract, transform, and load] vendors after Informatica acquired Striva. Now Microsoft and Oracle OEM our [CDC] technologies.

He's referring to data integration (DI) giant Informatica Corp.'s acquisition, back in 2003, of one of Attunity's biggest CDC competitors: the former Striva, which specialized in mainframe data access. (Informatica currently markets the former Striva technology as part of its Informatica PowerExchange product.)

If this had the effect of driving vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle into Attunity's arms, the acquisitions of DataMirror Corp., GoldenGate Software Inc., and Sybase Inc. encouraged Attunity to take a longer look at the data replication market, Ankorion explains.

"Oracle's acquisition of Golden Gate was kind of like what happened with Informatica's acquisition of Striva [in 2003]: it became a challenge for anyone who used to work with Golden Gate because of concerns about what [Oracle] was going to do [with the technology]," he explains, adding that Attunity didn't often go head-to-head against Sybase's data management assets.

"We see a lot of IBM and Oracle. Both of those products are very complex and are very expensive. That's the problem, from [a customer's] point of view: there are very few solutions and they tend to be very expensive and very complex."

Ankorion points to GoldenGate's published list price -- $17,500 per core -- and says that Attunity is priced at "about 50 percent less" than the Oracle product. (The flip side is that few Oracle GoldenGate customers actually pay list price.)

In addition to pricing, Attunity thinks it has other trump cards up its sleeve, Ankorion maintains. First is its new Replicate product, which was designed with what he calls "one-click replication" in mind.

"Replicate is something we've been working on for a while. We created the platform with the intention of creating high-performance data replication, but with quick time to value. We tried to automate a lot of the ... sometimes discrete activities or aspects of database replication," he points out, describing the activities of specifying source and target databases or of creating a target that mimics its source.

Another advantage, Ankorion claims, is that Replicate doesn't require the use of an agent or of other database-side software.

"No replication software is required to be installed on the source or target database servers. If you look at some of them [i.e., other data replication offerings], they have a peer-to-peer architecture, so you have to install their software on each source database and on each target database," he says.

"Our bulk reader [has] all kinds of tunings and optimizations [for different databases]. It's geared toward bulk extract. We use Oracle's client with OCI and we have a lot of experience in terms of knowing which OCI APIs to use and how to optimize them. We work against the log and not against the database." Replicate also exploits the native loading capability of other platforms, such as Teradata Corp.'s Parallel Data Loader (PDL).

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