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Odds are if you cut the cost of the most costly part of a project, the project as a whole will cost less. Thats precisely what Itemfield says it does for integration projects, by cutting the cost of data transformation, easily the highest-ticket item in most such undertakings.

In the Itemfield-sponsored ebizQ webinar Reducing the Cost of Business Integration with the Next Generation of Data Transformation, part of the series Integration at the Speed of Thought: Reducing the Cost of Data Transformation, Itemfield Vice President of Product Marketing Joe Schwartz explained how his company does it, with what he called a next-generation breakthrough in data transformation, involving data visualization.

Data transformation (definition, sourcing, translation and mapping) is a key component of any application and middleware deployment, he said. The time and costs involved are so large that many critical projects become prohibitively expensive. To overcome this problem, a great deal of effort has gone into the definition of standard data representations that all applications can share. XML has emerged as the basis of all such standards, but even XML-based standards can solve only part of the problem. We still need to transform information in its current format to XML-based representations.

Schwartz maintained there are three basic integration challenges to overcome: First is the diversity of formats used to encode information exchanged between applications, business processes, and trading partners. Second is the variety of components and technologies such as brokers, ETL tools, and home-grown programs written in various scripting languages that are used for data transformation across multiple systems in most large companies. We refer to this as the problem of technology disintegration. Third, and perhaps most costly, is that more and more business processes require the integration of extremely complex data types.

That third aspect is where integration efforts often hit a wall, according to ebizQ Vice President of Strategic Services Beth Gold-Bernstein, who said enterprises must then turn to the hand-coding of transformation rules. Buyers need to analyze the transformation capabilities of their integration solution. While it is often a check box on the features list, simple tools, such as XSLT transformation, will fall flat when it comes to complex data structures.


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