Thursday, July 19, 2007

No more mirror, mirror jokes... IBM snaffles DataMirror

IBM bought my former employers DataMirror earlier this week. Obviously their main interests will be the HA product line (a direct value add for them), and then the Transformation Server (TS) real time data integration components. Others have written here and here, so I won't labour that except to say that as part of the package they have won Constellar Hub (formerly dear old Information Junction - there's a phrase that doesn't escape my lips too often).

DataMirror never really "got" Constellar. Sure, I think they sweated the customers enough to make a return on their CDN$10million investment (what a steal that was!), but they never made a serious effort (afaik) to bring together the best of the Hub and TS. A shame, because I think it could have been a winner compared to the still rather tired 1990s EAI products like Informatica, DataStage, Ab Initio etc. In fact, TS+Hub could have turned out not unlike the Oracle Data Integrator (but with added "publish / subscribe", and strong IBM and Oracle partnerships).

Now the boot is on the other foot. Will IBM "get" DataMirror and its various product lines? All we can be reasonably sure of is that the Hub is now officially past its sell by date...

Am I glad I left DataMirror in 2001, and so didn't get bought again 6 years later? On balance, I think so. But I know some who have stayed all along - will they stay with IBM too?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Iona FUSEs Celtix and LogicBlaze

Iona says it is expanding customers' open SOA choices by bringing together under the FUSE banner products that were formerly part of Celtix ESB, or were acquired with the LogicBlaze purchase this April.

CBR points out that Iona seems to be favouring LogicBlaze supported components (Apache projects ActiveMQ, ServiceMix and Camel) over Celtix components (apart from CXF, which has moved over from ObjectWeb to Apache). The LogicBlaze purchase must be working out well, methinks...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Talend - another open source ETL tool

Bloor's Philip Howard writes at IT-Director about Talend Open Studio - unusual among ETL solutions in that it is a code generator (of Java, SQL, Perl) rather than an "engine" type of product.

As well as the usual drag-n-drop transformation GUI, this apparently supports business process modelling - which gives Talend a feature that many "real" ETL/EAI tools don't have. There's also support for using a server grid to parallelise processing, and there's an "on demand" SaaS offering.

Version 2.0 is now available, as well as a 2.1 release candidate which is said to add features including:

  • further optimizations for performance increase
  • support of new databases (including bulk load)
  • transaction management (connection sharing, commit and rollback)
  • Slowly Changing Dimensions support
  • MOM (Message Oriented Middleware) support for real-time integration jobs
  • fuzzy logic data matching (using the Levenshtein and metaphone algorithms)
  • normalization, denormalization and flow merge
  • support of SSH remote connections
  • support of PGP file decryption (through GPG binary)
  • reinforced support of the XML standard: DTD validation, XSD, XSLT transformation, significant improvements in hierarchical XML file generation, support of the XMLRPC Web Services protocol…
  • improvements to the tMap component, to support input filters and new joins types such (the cartesian product, first match, last match…)

Sounds like it might be worth a closer look...

Zoning in to Sonos

We've finally bitten the bullet and shelled out for a 2 zone Sonos music system. I see we're not alone; Rob Levy, BEA's CTO, says it is his favourite gadget - and Joel Spolsky has also endorsed it.

We started around Christmas buying 2 Squeezeboxes - because I'm cheap, and because the Sonos system needs at least one box on wired Ethernet - which we didn't have handy in the right rooms. Although the Squeezebox looks good, it didn't really deliver as I had hoped.

The worst things about the Squeezebox:

  • it's not very good at coping with poor wireless reception - which probably accounts for most of the other problems

  • although you can synchronise two boxes (say one in the kitchen, and one in the living room) they tend to drift apart; not a good sound!

  • The slimserver software is incredibly slow at (re)indexing

  • the whole solution relies on slimserver software installed (by an importer) on a linux NAS fileserver - that makes getting updates much harder.

  • Internet radio was listed, but I could never get it to work

  • Documentation and help was rather flaky

  • The boxes look great but the UI is crummy - I never managed to explain it to my wife (or even to myself...)

So we cut our losses and invested in two Sonos ZP80s - they're quite small boxes, which feed into your existing amplifiers (you can use ZP100 if you want a built in amp). Rather than recable our house, we got a couple of powernet adapters. Music sits on a (simple) NAS disc - no intelligence required there.

We had some difficulty getting the powernet working - in the end after three hours trying every feasible combination of sockets in our (1st floor) office and (ground floor) living room, the very helpful installer swapped the original Netgear products for Microlink and found a pair of sockets that worked. Fantastic! after that everything was very straightforward. There's a (pricey) i-Pod like controller - or you can use a desktop interface. Once you've sussed the Zones and Music buttons, it's a piece of cake to navigate.

It's using the same music library as Windows Media Player - so I can load music once, and use it either on my headphones from the laptop, or on the Sonos system. Having the same music in two zones is easy - and very reliable. Adding new zones is also very simple (I just know we'll need a third zone in the office...). And internet radio works a treat - though with a slightly robotic quality, from the selection of sites supported (plenty of UK ones - helpful for us as we get almost nothing on DAB or FM).

The Squeezeboxes won't be entirely wasted; they'll go out to Italy this summer, where they should benefit - eventually - from being wired in (assuming the builders have remembered the CAT-5...).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Graphic example

Thanks to Oracle AppsLab for referencing this stunning presentation by Hans Rosling. Not just for the superbly informative animated graphics, but also for the moving and thoughtful content (and the sting in the tail - watch all 19 minutes for the climax).