Data connectivity and mainframe integration vendor DataDirect Technologies has indicated that it is in the process of developing an integrated platform to tie together its various data products. The vendor is currently mid-way through the development process and hopes to launch the platform near the end of this year.
Anthony Swindells, fellow and senior programme manager of data services at DataDirect Technologies, explains: “We are working towards producing a consolidated offering to provide a unified interface to our solutions. We are developing a data access layer in which to embed our data connectivity, mainframe integration and XML data integration products.” The vendor, which is owned by Progress Software, is championing the concept of data services as an approach for addressing data challenges in SOA. Swindells reckons that data access is often overlooked in an SOA project: “SOA projects often result in data heterogeneity, as data must be accessed from many different places for a number of different purposes and if the access to this data is ignored, then serious problems can occur. This is why a separate access layer should be broken out of the business logic for an SOA project.” Firms who fail to devote sufficient planning to data access issues and attempt to layer a SOA approach on top of their existing data sources can find that providing flexibility above the service abstraction requires complex changes at the data source level, says Swindells. This impedes the agility the firm sought in the first place and undermines one of the core rationales for implementing SOAs. The problems do not end when the SOA project has been finished however, as whenever anything changes – the underlying database, the data model, or the version of the coding environment being used – the data access code must be updated everywhere it appears, he continues. So a system needs to be flexible enough to adapt to these requirements and this is part of the work that the vendor is currently engaged in with regards to platform development. He suggests that firms should employ a data architect to focus on the data access piece of an SOA project in order to avoid these problems. “An abstracted data service is a best of breed SOA. If access is abstracted as data services and the access code moved into supporting infrastructure, then problems can be addressed and changes can be supported throughout the environment in a much more loosely coupled and flexible manner,” he says, and this is where DataDirect Technologies comes in. The firm has been talking about these problems for some time, adds Swindells, and as there appears to be very little in the way of competition in the market, the time seems right for DataDirect to develop a platform to tie its products together. “This approach plays into the master data management (MDM) trend that is happening in the industry,” says Swindells. “Data services enhance flexibility and simplify application development by providing a consistent mechanism for accessing, integrating and updating enterprise data, regardless of where it is stored.” The acquisition of data integration vendor Xcalia in January this year is also part of DataDirect’s plans to provide an integrated approach to data, adds Swindells. “Xcalia, a leader in the development and adoption of the service data objects (SDO) and data access service (DAS) standards, will allow us to answer growing market demand for platform-independent data access to heterogeneous data within SOAs,” he says.