IBM targets data integration with new WebSphere release

Better integration for XML and non-XML data promised in version 8.0

IBM has released the latest version of WebSphere DataStage TX, data integration software it acquired from Ascential, as part of its effort to make it easier for businesses to manage and use information from a variety of data sources.

WebSphere DataStage TX 8.0 has a more powerful data integration engine, a more user friendly visual interface and technology that makes it easier to integrate XML and non-XML data, says Jonathan Arneault, product marketing director for WebSphere DataStage TX. The software integrates data from a variety of sources, including mainframes, specialising in linking complex data from proprietary back-end systems.

"The major theme is we're trying to simplify things — take the black arts out of the system," Arneault says. "So you don't have to be an expert to use this. We've automated a number of features."

Doug Smith, director of business process modeling and integration at supplier integration and order management services firm CommerceHub, says the new release of WebSphere DataStage TX makes it easier to integrate disparate systems.

WebSphere DataStage TX "has always been a versatile, powerful transformation development tool with a fast, efficient execution environment," he says. "Version 8.0 makes significant improvements in how transformations involving XML are handled and offers helpful new debugging tools for developers."

More than 1,000 companies — many in the financial services, healthcare and manufacturing industries — use WebSphere DataStage TX to integrate data from complex, proprietary back-end systems, Arneault says.

"WebSphere DataStage TX takes proprietary systems like a train manifest, or a wire transfer, or a back-end COBOL application or a Unix proprietary system interface and then integrates all of that data with any other kind of data," Arneault says.

Analysts say the WebSphere DataStage TX 8.0 release is interesting from an IBM strategy perspective. The software competes with IBM's own WebSphere business integration products, as well as with lower-level data transformation products from Tibco and WebMethods.

"After the Ascential acquisition, the question in everybody's mind was what was IBM going to do with this," says Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis. "With this release they are signaling that they are going to keep the technology and keep supporting it."

Included in the 8.0 release is the availability of new tools for industry-specific data integration, including the WebSphere Data Stage TX Pack for HIPAA EDI, WebSphere DataStage TX Packs for electronic data interchange, WebSphere DataStage TX Packs for enterprise applications (including SAP, Siebel, Oracle and PeopleSoft), and WebSphere DataStage TX Pack for SWIFT.

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