Monday, August 26, 2013

Convergence is, at Best, Asymptotic

No, not asymptomatic. Asymptotic. “Convergence” is a term we hear these days in IT. The convergence of Data Integration, in particular, is the one I care about. In the analysts’ vernacular, converged integration seems to mean a product, company, or platform that handles all modes of data integration – ETL, EAI, ESB, DV et al.

By definition, “convergence” means a coming together, which clearly implies the parts started from other places and came voluntarily or were coerced into coming together. Just looking at history, companies like IBM, Oracle, and Informatica absorbed outside companies and products to nominally have a product suite with all the modes. Here’s how it works: Need ETL? Buy Ascential, rename it, give it a massage with hot towels, then say, “Voilà! Voilà! Voilà!” and your product now covers ETL, too! Or, take a Data Virtualization product, write a bunch of code, and again, “Voilà!” and your product covers ETL, too.

With all due respect to the analysts, the word convergence may describe the reality of most companies incorporating more and more integration modes, but keep in mind though, that in mathematics convergence means getting closer and closer but never quite getting there: asymptotic [translation: Close, but no cigar!].

I am certain that the analysts do not mean Convergence in the mathematical sense. The term is quite useful for establishing a powerful vision of dramatically reduced time-to-value, clean architectures, flexible integration patterns, and highly streamlined change management and maintenance over time.

If you read my last blog you probably recognize that there is a significant difference with Enterprise Enabler®. It was designed from the ground up with a powerful core that handles all the common functionality of the range of modes, with implicit data federation across disparate sources (databases, electronic instruments, spreadsheets, data warehouses, ERP systems, cloud services and so on). 

 That core is the common root of all data integration modes, a bit like the trunk of a tree that has any number of branches and leaves, instead of trying to converge a bunch of branches by stuffing them all in an opaque vase and pretending like they have a single trunk. That spells trouble, and doesn't even come close to asymptotic. Probably not asymptomatic, either. 

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