IBM to deliver Information Integrator

Formerly called Xperanto, the company's long-awaited entry into the market for information integration poses an alternative to large, centralized data warehouses.

IBM next week plans to release its DB2 Information Integrator database software for collating information from multiple sources.

The announcement is one of a barrage of software-related announcements that IBM is planning for its Software Symposium for customers on Tuesday in Munich, Germany.

Formerly called Xperanto, DB2 Information Integrator acts as a dedicated search engine for corporate information, collating data from multiple sources. Rather than having to install a huge, centralized database called a data warehouse to store that disparate information, companies can use DB2 Information Integrator to query several sources and present a consolidated result.

DB2 Information Integrator can work with relational databases, which are used to keep corporate data such as customer records, along with documents or images. Application developers kick off database inquiries with the commonly used Structured Query Language (SQL). IBM plans to make use of the Extensible Markup Language (XML) with a querying method based on the XQuery standard when that standard matures sometime next year, according to company executives.

IBM is also preparing a version of DB2 Information Integrator for content management systems. Rather than use SQL to do database searches, the content management edition will be more oriented toward documents, said Jeff Jones, director of strategy for IBM's DB2 data management software.

Several other companies are pursuing similar data aggregation technology, known as enterprise information integration (EII), or federated, databases. BEA Systems last year introduced Liquid Data, an XML-based method for searching databases. Microsoft, too, will introduce similar capabilities in its forthcoming version of the SQL Server database, called id="957376">Yukon, which is expected to go into customer testing later this year. Nimble Technology and MetaMatrix are two start-ups focused on the information integration.

Information integration technology is beginning to bear fruit, in part for economic reasons, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst at RedMonk.

"With cost-cutting and economic pressures, companies don't want to buy a whole lot of new databases if they can avoid it," O'Grady said. "If there is a lightweight technology that is cheaper and easier to implement, they are certainly considering it."

O'Grady also noted that greater usage of XML portends well for the future use of XQuery for searching data sources that store documents such as e-mail messages or Web content. But at this point, he said, information integration products are best suited for so-called structured data in relational databases, which are used for corporate transaction systems.

DB2 Information Integrator costs $20,000 for a server license and $15,000 per data source to which an application connects.

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