The Rise of Data Virtualization in the Cloud

One of the bigger challenges with anything having to do with software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications is how quickly they can sprawl out of control. Before most organizations realize it they wind up with multiple silos of SaaS applications that are even more difficult to integrate than traditional enterprise applications.

Obviously, this situation is creating an opportunity for vendors to create any number of services that are designed to seamlessly integrate all those SaaS applications. The latest of these offerings comes from the fertile mind of Roger Sippl, the founder of Informix Software. Sippl and colleagues are beta testing Connection Cloud, a service that leverages cloud connectors to invoke the APIs of any number of SaaS applications.

According to Sippl, what makes Connection Cloud unique is that it creates a structured virtual SQL database to make it easier to access data stored in multiple SaaS applications.

One of the first beta users of Connection Cloud is Yellowfin, a provider of business intelligence software. According to Yellowfin CEO Glen Rabie, Connection Cloud makes each SaaS application appear as a database table. That makes it easy for a BI application to treat those applications as just another data source. In effect, Connection Cloud turns Yellowfin BI software into a composite application, says Rabie.

Connection Cloud competes with rival services provided by companies such as Informatica Cloud, Dell Boomi and Mulesoft CloudHub. In fact, Informatica today released the summer update to Informatica Cloud, which now includes support for Integration templates that can be dynamically invoked at run time.

According to Darren Cunningham, vice president of cloud marketing for Informatica, Informatica Cloud differs from services such as Connection Cloud in that Informatica addresses not only the integration challenges associated with SaaS applications, but also on premise applications. The latest release of Informatica also adds support for integrating Eloqua, Workday and Netsuite applications along with traditional Web Services interfaces. The Informatica Cloud Connector Toolkit also adds a new advanced hierarchical data modeling capability, which allows applications with complex object relationships to make use of new data integration scenarios.

To one degree or another all these services are examples of data virtualization. Rather than being overly concerned with what data resides where and in what form, the future of data integration is going to be a lot more transparent. That obviously offers a lot of promise when it comes advancing the cause of data integration, which when you think about it is at the heart of all things programmable on the Web.

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