Since its appearance on the IT landscape five years ago, data warehousing has been considered a technology accessible and attractive to only larger enterprises.
But one software developer is looking to turn this perception around. Although better known for its UniVerse database product, VMark has launched into the world of data warehousing with a product it claims is accessible by all levels of software developers.
Called DataStage, the VMark's new product is a set of integrated tools designed to allow developers to firstly get access to operational data, then transform and cleanse it, for business intelligence use in a data warehouse environment.
"When it comes to data warehousing the key is to develop a way to look at the information that your company puts together," says Gari Johnson, marketing manager for VMark Asia-Pacific, "and unless you have clear, accurate and easily accessible data you're wasting you're time. It doesn't matter how good your business intelligence tool is, it doesn't matter how good the warehouse is, if you don't have clear access to the data and the data's not accurate you're wasting your time.
"That's where DataStage comes into the picture. It's about providing a solution to cover extraction, cleansing, transformation and integration, in getting the information from your operational systems through to your data warehouse so it's available to your business users."
Johnson says that, whereas many companies developing solutions in this field are building complex systems for large enterprises, VMark has concentrated on servicing companies with between 200 and 500 users. "They're currently locked out of the data-warehousing projects because they're not prepared to spend six months and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to develop a data warehouse," he said.
"DataStage is a product that's designed to help automate that process. There's no revolutionary new piece of technology. What we've done is take technology that we already had - open middleware tools and experience working with legacy data - and package that together as a solution."
Johnson says DataStage was developed in response to calls from VMark's own developer community, which numbers around 150 locally. "We have lots of customers out there who are experimenting with data warehousing, and they are starting to find difficulties in areas where they need assistance. And we've found over the last two years that our business partners have been asking if we can help them."
Data Stage will be pitched at what Johnson says is an untapped market - vertical industries. "We've got 400 vertical application partners worldwide in all sorts of industries, and they're now finding that if they don't get involved in data warehousing they're going to have less of a competitive advantage," said Johnson.
Drag and drop
"Where we think we will sell a lot of it initially is in these vertical market areas, because these smaller guys haven't had a solution. And we've priced it very competitively."
The product itself is a Windows-based client/server application, which uses a drag-and-drop capability. Developers create reusable "stages" which are linked together to automate the creation of the data warehouse. "There's no programming required," said Johnson, "so an end-user customer could purchase this system and develop a transformation routine without programming at all. And that's unique."
DataStage includes complete basic and SQL programming languages. "The idea is that it's completely extendable," Johnson said. "If a value-added reseller wants to take the product and put it against his application, he performs a drag and drop and he's done it. He compiles that job and creates a stage, which he can issue out as a run time. He can then embed this with this application. The customer buys their application, installs the warehouse database and runs the application."
Pricing for the Data Stage development kit starts around $10,000.
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