Search, Integration in the ‘Masala’ Mix For IBM


IBM is bringing real-time
enterprise information to customers with an open beta of its software that lets users pull information from multiple data types from one location.


Launched Monday, DB2 Information Integrator software known
internally as “Masala” (an Indian word meaning a “mixture of spices”) is now ready for developers to test.


Masala promises a single view of information assets, independent of
data
type and location. This also means it will be able to grab data from
products of such vendors as Oracle, Microsoft, Documentum and others.


According to Laura Haas, senior manager of information integration at
IBM,
Masala represents the vendor’s latest effort to bridge the gap between
software in distinct product lines. In this case, the software works
with
the company’s WebSphere MQ messaging middleware to let a customer’s
infrastructure link data with business processes.


This is crucial because customers are increasingly taking on large
integration projects in order to drive down costs. But integration software used
for
one project can only rarely be used for another; IBM decided to
rectify
that by reworking Masala to connects data changes with business
processes by
publishing changes to messaging middleware, such as WebSphere MQ.


This means a manufacturer can trigger delivery of price updates to its
sales
force, retailers and Web channels — all based
on the single change to the corporate price table and using the
existing
messaging infrastructure.


Haas told internetnews.com the effort is a key piece of IBM’s
services-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy, which ties
directly to the company’s broader e-business on-demand movement to pipe information faster than ever.


IDC analyst Carl Olofson said the key to Masala lies in its ability to
manipulate metadata , or data about data.


“There is value in being able to provide an environment where you can
say:
‘this is where this is kind of information is kept, this is the format
it is
kept in and how it needs to be accessed and transformed’ in a coherent
way
instead of just wiring a bunch of disparate elements together,” Olofson
said. “As a user, you should just be able to ask a question and get and
answer, but also an answer that is correct.”


Masala also features more than 100 new automation, integration and
speed
perks from previous iterations.


For example, Haas said Masala helps businesses get results from queries
up
to 10 times faster than the previous iteration and reduces tedious
hand-coding, a bugbear for time-crunched programmers.

The
product also draws from IBM’s deep autonomic computing software pool,
alerting users of changes in the system on the fly.


Haas also said the beta boasts unheard of enterprise search features
that
allow users to tap into 85 percent of data stored in unstructured form,
including documents, Web sites, and video and graphic files with
sub-second
response time.


Making the so-called real-time enterprise a reality to customers is
imperative for integration software vendors such as IBM, BEA Systems,
TIBCO
and webMethods, among others. This is because customer companies are
increasingly charged with managing multiple information sources, from
unstructured data such as e-mail to structured forms like XML content.


But because businesses are often using different systems, data types
are
often different, making communication and information integration among
partners, suppliers and customers a chore.


With products like Masala, IBM is hoping to cut a bigger wedge of the
business integration software pie, which Dataquest pegs at $10 billion
by
2006.


Written over the past two years at 11 IBM research and development labs
around the world, Masala appeared
last September and has been adopted by customers such as Merrill Lynch and Quad
Graphics. The next version of DB2 Information Integrator should appear
later
this year.

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