Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pervasive's Integration World Europe 2012

I was at Integration World Europe 2012 today, organised by Pervasive at the Cumberland hotel in London.
A nice environment and a party of a hundred plus, today's topics were Big Data, Data Integration, Cloud and Strategic Business Solutions.
Clear divisions were made on Cloud: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, and public, private, community and hybrid

Shawn Rogers from Enterprise Management Associates showed an extensive amount of tips and tricks on how to make sure you get the Cloud solution you need, being honest about the small print. The 50-page report he squeezed into one presentation showed many insights, and I'll certainly study it

In their journey to the Cloud, Pervasive swapped almost all their internal (largely .Net-based) applications by various external providers, mostly Cloud-based. Some of those really solved business and compliancy problems, others just saved a lot of money, and some where an alternative over a big upgrade or an entire product replacement.
Of course, integrating all that is not an issue for Pervasive. There is only one issue, and that is user management and single sign-on (read: synchronised password expiration) across all those different solutions. Great session by Steve Padgett

The biggest issue that lies at the root of all problems is master data. Hot almost 10 years ago already, it seemed to somehow have been conveniently ignored - at least in my world it didn't reach the hype it promised to be.
Geoji George presented a rapid approach to one version of the truth: data quality leads the way there. Pervasive uses a good range of products here: Data Integrate to extract, custom industry-based libraries to cleanse a first round, MatchMerge to apply filtering and cleaning rules, and then Data Integrate again to load. MatchMerge has a good set of capabilities including fuzzy logic, and the combination of it all seems like a strong combination to improve data quality so it can end up in a database to serve MDM purposes. Pervasive doesn't really mind which database that is, they support more than a few.
Pervasive doesn't offer MDM as a product or solution themselves, but the hardest part of getting there from scratch is supported very well

Finally, Pervasive's Mike Hoskins, CTO, showed Pervasive's Big Data products and solutions for Extreme Computing. This will be released / revealed in the coming months, and unfortunately the future session was under NDA so I can't tell you more - I wish I could

I couldn't attend all sessions of course. Pervasive Data Integrator 10 I would have liked to see for sure. It's offered on-premise, off-premise, whatever suits your needs. It just so happened all my sessions were presented by Pervasive people, yet I'd liked to have heard from customers and only half of the sessions were given by Pervasive people so I made a somewhat unlucky choice there - although I have no regrets.
I managed to finish attending the panel session which was okay but only got very interesting towards the end, but then had to run and catch my flight which I managed to do with only half an hour to spare - next time I'll change my flight strategy for sure: I missed a very valuable part of the day

My takeaway from this day: the market for Integration is growing faster than ever, and the notion that it's not about either-or is slowly getting through. If the last decades in IT have taught us anything, it's that there is no next new thing that will take all our problems away.
Our problems persist, because we seek new business opportunities every day.
Our problems persist, because we find new business opportunities every day.
Our problems persist, because these new business opportunities pose different challenges to us every day.
Forget about building a house on rock versus sand: you will be building right over a vault line no matter where you do so - evolution will simply go on no matter what

Did you think things were settling down? Cloud will tear up your IT solution whether you like it or not, and Big Data, which isn't a problem now, or in the next few years, certainly proposes a lot of business opportunities right now.
The last decade and then some has shown a convergence from batch-oriented processing and thus execution towards real-time and in some cases even event-driven operation. While the amount of information has increased within enterprises, the time to keep it has done so as well due to regulations and compliancy, among others.
To be able to crunch that, and metaphysical data which becomes available in abundance, you and your competitors all take weeks, which is fine, because you all do it, right? Now what if that were just days, or even minutes? What if you could decide, e.g. in retail, to sell an item at half-price for like an hour? Before the competition knows it, your run is done and you've made a quick buck, just because you could act much sooner on information available - because it was you who turned data into information.

Turn it around: what if you can analyze today's data on the spot and thus spot trends that no one else can - yet? It'll feel like you're trading stock based on real-time information while the others have day-old information. Analysing quickly and swiftly gives you the ability to trend and look into the future - or at least gives you the audacity to do so

What matters, is being adaptive. Adopting new solutions and thus waiting for them to become available (for the whole market at the same time too) is just plain silly and only pleasing the typical vendors and system integrators. Has client-server solved anything? We're back to dummy terminals now with Cloud. Has ERP or CRM solved anything? It gave us more customization than bespoke could ever dream of, while at the same time threatening us with a major update every other year.
Has ERP solved the integration problem? No, we now just have SAP- and Oracle silos that are still bespoke on a functional and technical level.
Integration? It's still on the agenda, and if we focus on replacing SOAP by REST, and Connectors by API's, it will still be on the agenda 10 years from now - in a useless way.
If we keep on talking about Cloud, that will also be on the agenda 10 years from now, unless we address SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, how we get to the various flavours via private, hybrid, community and public cloud and explore how we can keep all that together with on-premise or other off-premise where it needs to be.
When it comes together, we need to realise that the average dictionary is so big because it pleases everyone: in the next few years we'll find out that it's a truth that also applies to the enterprise, when we jot all our increasingly becoming disparate stuff together.
My vision for the future is clear: diversity is here to stay, because time-to-market and real-time decision making will dictate so. Out go the dinosaurs (although they'll manage to squeeze out another few updates on an increasing discount), in come the packs of velociraptors. That means slowly converge from on-premise to off-premise where that will ROI, and do something else or stick to proven solutions where it doesn't

What I especially like about Pervasive is the fact that they're hype-free. They tell it like it is, and show that being sincere and open can lead to great success. They know what they talk about, and can relate that message to any audience. Their great promise is DataRush, which you should be watching closely. I know I will

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