Today I ran into an article in Network World in which they have selected eight open source companies to watch. I usually don’t pay too much attention to these marketing things, but I found interesting that two of the companies selected are doing data integration: Apatar and Talend.
Talend, I know them already (see this post about my recent product selection project). But Apatar was new to me, so I decided to take a closer look. I don’t have bandwidth at this point to try the product (maybe later) but the positioning itself is interesting.
First thing I noticed (in the Network World article) is that the reason the company is called Apatar is because it starts with an A and the domain name was available. Well, I guess that was a good move, since Apatar is listed first in the article! I guess at some point journalists will have to use reverse alphabetical order, or random order, to be fair to vendors starting with X, Y and Z. Talend also commented on this in their blog (tough luck, they start with a T…).
So what’s Apatar about? They say they are the first provider of on-demand open source data integration. There seems to be a lot of “first something” in this field.
According to their site, it’s about integrating data from Web 2.0 applications such as Flickr and Amazon S3. Well, granted, that’s kind of trendy, but how useful is it? I have been doing data integration for 15 years, and never seen anyone store enterprise data in Amazon S3 (even recently)! Maybe I am only doing business with dusty companies… but let’s face it: a lot of data is still stored in legacy systems (mainframes, files…); today the majority of systems my clients deal with are RDBMS (usually proprietary, although open source ones such as MySQL and Ingres show up more and more often) and ERP/CRM (hosted in house). A few have successfully deployed a SaaS CRM (Salesforce.com or SugarCRM) but that’s the extent of on-demand data I have seen. So focusing on data stored in on-demand systems sounds an odd strategy. Maybe in 10 or 15 years… but I doubt their financial backers will wait for that long.
Another thing that I don’t get about Apatar is this: in which stage is their product? The log on their Web site still says “beta”. OK, open source projects (the ones without a company driving them) tend to remain in beta forever. But if Apatar is a real commercial open source company, its customers are entitled to the best of both worlds: the openness and flexibility of open source, and the pro support and backing of a real company. That’s what the client I was working with was getting from MySQL. And that’s what I would expect should I use this product.
Anyway, it’s always interesting to see new companies emerge, and to see that data integration is still a hot space. If I can find time, I’ll try Apatar’s product at some point.