Mergers, acquisitions, growth, downsizing: as global markets are forced to navigate their way amid the deeper, discernable effects of unavoidable financial turmoil, IT systems are inevitably and intrinsically affected.
As companies merge, acquire new applications, and build their IT platforms by incorporating disparate applications with legacy systems, information systems are becoming increasingly heterogeneous, complex, and scattered.
Consequently data integration tools, which enable the combining of data from different sources to provide the user with a unified view, have become indispensable. Enterprise IT departments looking to properly manage the flows of data across the information system understand the need for a clear and reliable system. Businesses able to adapt in a flexible, agile manner are far more likely to survive and prosper than those who flounder amid aging and irrelevant systems.
The recent spate of fragmented rescues confirms the need to find flexible solutions to corporate collapses and raises huge technology issues. In business, IT is often not just an enabler, but can provide the vital “edge” that can translate to competitive advantage. In particular, with regards to businesses that thrive mostly on the collection, investment, and distribution of funds, the systems that track these processes are the lifeblood. There is never room for glitches in the IT department, and especially not within the urgent context of an emergency merger.
While switching to a single system would save costs, implementation of new strategies of this kind can delay processes for insurmountable lengths of time. Alternative models of software deployment, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), and the need for interoperability with partners, customers, providers, etc., also have an important impact on data integration requirements.
The adoption of open source software, specifically with regards to data integration, can be a beneficial panacea to the otherwise daunting prospect of streamlining IT systems. The ethos at the core of the open source movement: freedom, collaboration, and transparency, exemplify and epitomise the tenets that are increasingly being viewed as the only way to approach the future of IT requirements.
Due to economic factors, it is possible that there will be a declining investment in new applications, despite increased need for data integration technology. Integration consumes a significant portion of the IT budget and is coming under heavier scrutiny as a cost to control. Fortunately, there are open source products in this market capable of supplying the much-needed automation.
Open source data integration tools can provide the cost advantages of hand-coding with the productivity advantages of traditional data integration software. They are established in the developer tools market which has been the traditional stronghold of open source software.
Open source tools can automate and maintain tasks formerly requiring manual scripts, and the existing skills of the IT implementation team easily transfer to an open source offering without significant up-front fees.
As business tempos speed up, real-time and nearly real-time operational data integration projects will prevail over bulk transfer projects. Although software companies are trying to provide unified integration solution packages, the data integration needs for most enterprises are so complex that they often need to multiply the number and nature of integration software products they use. Using open source and commercial solutions in combination is very common: the two can coexist on the same platform. Open source solutions are often complementary to an existing proprietary solution that cannot address a specific need.
Many enterprises are now considering open source solutions, not just for one-time projects, but also for their ongoing mission-critical processes, to replace or complement their expensive existing solutions. Open source solutions are a real alternative to the proprietary world. Key players have made major strides toward improving the usability and friendliness of open source technologies, traditionally a weak spot for these applications.