Open source start-up upgrades data integration software

Support for Java, extra connectors among the new features in Talend’s Open Studio software.

Talend, a start-up that makes open source data integration software, this week released an upgraded version of its product that triples the number of connectors, allows users to run data integration processes in Java, and expands the ability to execute high-volume data transformations.

Talend, based in the suburbs of Paris, France, and in Palo Alto, Calif., entered the data integration market with a product called Open Studio six months ago and released version 2.0 on Monday.

The company is targeting its product at small and midsize businesses that may not be willing to pay the prices charged by proprietary software vendors such as Informatica, Oracle or IBM.

An enterprise can expect to pay most data integration vendors anywhere from nearly $20,000 to $500,000 in initial costs for software licenses, and between $5,000 and $150,000 for annual licensing charges, according to a 2004 report by the Yankee Group.

There really isn’t much difference among data integration products, so companies looking to save money should feel safe going to an open source vendor, says Forrester analyst Michael Goulde. Talend isn’t the only option for open source data integration. Competitors include Apatar and KETL.

“Data integration is the kind of capability that open source lends itself well to,” Goulde says. “It’s not a highly differentiated offering. It’s sort of buried in the middleware, if you will.”

Open Studio itself is free. Talend charges support fees of $1,200 to $2,500 per user per year, company executives say.

Data integration products combine data sets from multiple systems so they can be shared and analyzed within a business.

Talend uses a distributed grid architecture to run processes closer to data sources, thereby decreasing network transfers and speeding up the integration, according to Yves de Montcheuil, the company’s vice president of marketing.

Talend Open Studio also offers a high-level non-technical view so end users can be involved in the data integration process and understand how it works, he says.

Open Studio always allowed customers to generate programs for executing integration processes using the Perl programming language. Version 2.0 adds support for Java, which is not as versatile as Perl but is faster, de Montcheuil says.

“What customers are telling us is that the Perl jobs are running two to three times faster than their traditional proprietary tools,” he says. “What our beta testing customers are telling us is the Java jobs run two to five times faster than the Perl ones. So you’re getting another order of magnitude gain.”

Version 2.0 comes with connectors to more than 100 data sources, compared to about 35 in the first version, Talend officials say. The extra connectors include ones for business applications from SugarCRM, SalesForce.com, and Microsoft, and the open source database PostgreSQL.

The new version lets customers choose at what point in a process data is transformed from one format to another. The software offers traditional extract, transform and load (ETL) capabilities, in which data is extracted from a source, transformed and then loaded into its ultimate destination. In addition, Version 2.0 lets customers opt to use extract, load and transform (ELT) functions that extract data, load it into the target and then transform it inside the target.

Having both options gives customers flexibility when they have to execute high-volume data transformations, Talend officials say.

“We’re bringing ETL and ELT with an equal level of power and performance,” says de Montcheuil. “And really, for each subset of a job the user can choose whether it’s best to run as ELT or ETL.”

Talend says its product has been downloaded about 60,000 times, with half of those downloads in the United States.

The company says it has 1,000 beta testers, as well as 10 or 15 paying support customers, including Swissport, Accor, Dalloz, Alliance Boots and The Phone House.

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