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Content Integration Heats Up
by
Posted On October 1, 2004
A recent headline in eWeek caught me by surprise: "Venetica Buy Makes IBM King of Content." What? IBM handles data, not "content," I thought. I used to view IBM as just a mainframe database vendor. Though with its work on WebFountain and collaboration in developing text-mining products (like Factiva's reputation-management tool powered by WebFountain), I have certainly been paying more attention to its news. 

Well, after investigating, it seems that Venetica, which IBM is purchasing, has been a partner with IBM, and its content integration technology has worked with IBM's DB2 Information Integrator. Now, as IBM launches the next release of its DB2 Information Integrator (released to beta customers in June and code-named "Masala"), it will be able to integrate Venetica's technology directly into the product, giving it the ability to handle both unstructured and structured data within a range of content management platforms. The eWeek article stated that the purchase of Venetica proves that IBM is "dead serious about ruling the content integration market." 

I've been hearing a lot about content integration lately, as the technologies have developed that allow companies to get a handle on their unstructured textual content, tucked in various formats and applications--information that resides in separate content silos or repositories. In August, I reported on EMC Documentum's new Enterprise Content Integration Services. Connie Moore, vice president at Forrester Research and author of a 2004 report entitled "The Content Integration Imperative," says enterprise content integration is a pressing need. According to a Forrester study, 43 percent of respondents used more than five unstructured content repositories across the enterprise, and of those, 25 percent had more than 15. 

Organizations usually have a significant investment in their existing content platforms, and using a content integration solution means they can avoid migrating between platforms or doing custom integration. Both involve considerable time and expense. 

The new IBM DB2 Information Integrator (Masala) will permit federated searching across structured databases as well as unstructured data, such as Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, and software from Oracle, Microsoft, Documentum, and others. IBM says it will provide businesses with a single view of their information assets, regardless of where the information resides, in real-time and as if it were stored in one place. (Hmmm, that seems to me like a virtual database or library concept--a veritable information nirvana.)

By the way, masala is a rich, flavorful mixture of spices used in Indian cooking. IBM said that its Masala symbolizes the breadth of technologies required to build an information infrastructure. The text-based search capabilities of Masala are based on research from the IBM WebFountain project. According to information posted by IBM, Masala and WebFountain share technologies but serve different needs: "WebFountain is a hosted solution focused on advanced analytics for the Internet, while Masala provides search and analytics capabilities for enterprise content." 

Factiva hasn't launched its WebFountain-powered product yet. (A Factiva representative said that the company is still working with early adopters on the product's features and has decided to extend its development phase.) However, a brochure on the Factiva site calls the project Factiva Insight for Reputation and states that it will integrate content mined from Factiva and the public Web. Keep an eye on this content integration trend--we'll be hearing a lot more about it.

Links
eWeek article: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1640000,00.asp

NewsBreak on WebFountain and Factiva: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16617

IBM DB2 Information Integrator: http://www-306.ibm.com/software/data/integration

For more information on WebFountain, go to http://www.almaden.ibm.com/webfountain

NewsBreak on Documentum ECI: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16386

Factiva Insight for Reputation: http://www.factiva.com/collateral/files/factiva_insight_brochure_1662.pdf


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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