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Integration ­– It's Pervasive

  • May 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

Due to the ubiquity of data, the explosion of data volumes and the reality of heterogeneity in IT systems, organizations today are seeking cost-effective and efficient data integration solutions. This need for data integration is pervasive across enterprises of all sizes, and Pervasive Software has an ambitious vision to provide high-value, low TCO products that enable customers to manage, integrate, analyze and secure this data within and beyond their business.

"Data is the lifeblood of your company, and if you can do more with the data you have, you're going to be much more successful," explains Mike Hoskins, vice president and general manager of Pervasive Software's Integration Products Division and former president of Data Junction Corporation, acquired by Pervasive in December of 2003. "Our mission is to build out what will be the value leader in data and business integration solutions, allowing enterprises of all sizes to optimize their existing data investments and to accelerate operational performance.

Data Integration Foundation

"Pervasive and Data Junction share parallel histories as 'classic American startups,'" reflects Hoskins. Data Junction started in 1984 in a 600-square-foot garage in Austin. Hoskins joined the Data Junction team in 1988 just as the company was emerging from the development phase and beginning to commercialize its products. Hoskins recalls, "In the time-honored tradition of entrepreneurs, we rolled up our sleeves, invested sweat equity and built the business ourselves."

The motivating factor at Data Junction was the vision that they could solve the escalating problem of integrating all of the various data resources in an organization. Data Junction founders had a strong background in mainframe systems and sophisticated knowledge of IT software infrastructure. Because Data Junction's initial product development was occurring during the desktop boom, they targeted the desktop for the original build of their infrastructure. Hoskins comments, "We rolled out what became a very successful and well-known general-purpose data integration brand worldwide for virtually any source and target on desktop platforms. We achieved huge success at that level - by some measure, we were the most widely deployed pure-play data integration toolset in the world."

"Over the years," says Hoskins, "we have shipped more than 100,000 licenses of our core integration technology to more than 25,000 customers around the world. We were one of the pioneers in the entire data integration space, and we delivered one of the first general-purpose integration toolsets in the integration marketplace. We also developed and shipped one of the first visual mapping environments for transforming incompatible sources and targets of data." He proudly adds, "We established a lot of what people accept as standard today in the integration industry."

Confident that they had some of the best intellectual property in the world for solving the problem of syntactic and semantic conflict resolution, Data Junction moved into bigger markets. Hoskins explains, "We initially moved into the ETL space for business intelligence and data warehousing. We then leveraged advantages in our core integration platform that allowed us to span the entire spectrum of integration pain points in the enterprise, focusing not just on classic data movement/data integration, but also on more event-driven, real-time transactional and business integration. The core technology that we invented has the ability to power enterprises of all sizes, with particular strength in the mid-market and is embeddable for ISVs and developers," he states.

Pervasive History

Pervasive traces its roots to a company founded in 1982 - SoftCraft, purveyors of the acclaimed Btrieve database technology. Acquired by Novell in 1987, the company was later spun out as Btrieve Technologies in 1994. Btrieve took the Pervasive Software name in 1996 to reflect its global presence and went public in 1997. In 2003, Pervasive Software acquired Data Junction Corporation to enhance the company's ability to comprehensively address the data infrastructure needs of current and future customers.

A Growth Opportunity

Hoskins notes that organizations that have taken steps to conquer their data integration challenges gain competitive advantage and are able to move faster and more effectively as an enterprise. "Our powerful platform is capable of providing enterprises with tremendous return on investment," reports Hoskins.

Hoskins was quick to realize that expanding the company to bring Data Junction's low TCO (total cost of ownership) data integration products to the next level would require more sales and marketing muscle. Thus, he began conversations with various public companies and had the good fortune to meet Dave Sikora, president and CEO of Pervasive, coincidentally also located in Austin.

"I like to tell the story about how well we knew Pervasive and how well we thought the cultures fit together," says Hoskins. "We bought our first copy of Btrieve, the product that originally made Pervasive famous, in 1985 when they were just a tiny company in Austin as we were. Tracing its history to a company founded in 1982, Pervasive has even deeper roots and is another Austin success story. We had a long history of working with Pervasive, and we'd supported their data formats and databases over the years."

"As we got to know Dave and the Pervasive management team better," recalls Hoskins, "we discovered that this was the perfect opportunity for our company to continue to grow and excel within a larger entity that could really capture the value we had created inside Data Junction," explains Hoskins. "We negotiated with Pervasive and closed that deal on December 4, 2003. We have joined a company that not only has deep roots and wonderful success in the data management sphere - which is an adjacent marketplace to integration - but a company that is very ambitious about delivering a stack of low TCO data infrastructure products to mid-sized businesses and departments of large enterprises. This is a compelling argument that really resonates with customers in today's economic landscape where the bubble has burst and infinite budgets are a thing of the past. Everybody is interested in getting a much higher return on investment. In the software industry, that means going with somebody who is nimble and quicker and more economical - both initially and also in the running costs. That was always the Data Junction story, and interestingly it's also been the Pervasive story for 20 years," Hoskins says. As a result of the merger with Pervasive, a publicly traded company, Data Junction's product base gained all the advantages of higher visibility, better resources and a robust long-term plan for growth.

Evidence of Pervasive's commitment to the data and business integration product line was rolled out in April of this year. The new foundational slate of integration products for data infrastructure management - Pervasive Business Integrator, Pervasive Data Integrator and Data Junction Migration Toolkit - all capitalize on the technology acquired from Data Junction in the merger. "The Data Integrator and Business Integrator products are based on an open, all-XML meta data repository, which means that we'll be able to use it powerfully for our own design, deploy and manage architecture, and - for the first time - it is also completely open to the IT departments or business units that buy our software. That doesn't mean they have to use it, but if they did want to penetrate inside, there is no longer an ugly black box that would require them to learn proprietary APIs. Customers who invest in a Pervasive solution will benefit from a solution whose data is transparent, reusable and can be leveraged again in other projects. Additionally, if they have other projects, they can begin to tie together the meta data existing in multiple repositories from different projects. Hoskins readily agrees with Sikora who says, "Pervasive's integration product offerings are a manifestation of our strategy to become the value leader in high value, low TCO infrastructure products that support the lifeblood of every enterprise - data."

Where Others Fall Short

Hoskins emphasizes that many of today's data integration solutions cause new problems rather than solve the old problems. "A lot of the integration vendors have dropped the ball, promising too much and delivering too little," he states. "That's tragic, and some customers have learned this quite expensively. Companies pitching the 'one size fits all' approach to data integration have been selling customers short." He adds that one of the integration industry's "dirty little secrets" has been that services often compose a very large part of what some vendors call an integration solution. "Services is a very important dimension of any integration company's offerings, but the Pervasive difference is that we enable the customer to achieve quick success with the technology that we're delivering, without binding them to us in an expensive and semipermanent, long-term relationship that drives down the ROI that they're going to get from the software. Customers would much rather have something succeed at a project level as a proof point so that they can take success, show it to their management and then build on that success," Hoskins states.

Mike Hoskins

  • Last Book Read: Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
  • Memorable Movie: The Wanderers
  • Respected Politician: Margaret Thatcher
  • Dream Car: Porsche 911 C4S Cab, black-on-black (in my garage)
  • Favorite Vacation Spot: Ouro Preto
  • Admired Individual: Friedrich Hayek
  • Favorite Sport: NBA
  • Hobby: Reading
  • Favorite Type of Music: Blues
  • Favorite Food: Steak
  • Favorite Beverage: Bourbon

One of the other pressures impacting businesses today is that it is no longer enough to live on an island - either as an application or as an enterprise. "There is a need to be connected - both inside and outside your enterprise," says Hoskins. Attempting to connect with external partners often creates what Hoskins calls the "integration gap." Mid-sized and large companies are being squeezed between the corporate giants that have decided to set their own requirements, demanding that every organization partnering with them speak their language in order to continue doing business with them. "The pain of wrestling with disparate data integration," says Hoskins, "is at the front of our customers' minds, and it's a pain that cannot be ignored." Hoskins explains that the integration gap can be exacerbated by integration solutions that rely on custom code, outside service consultants or tools that are too expensive to buy and too difficult to use.

Pervasive Delivers

Pervasive takes a different tack when it comes to integration solutions. "The average IT landscape is a massively diverse and dynamically changing and growing landscape of competing systems," says Hoskins. "It really is a living organism in its own right because new systems are constantly being introduced, companies are being merged and split, new versions of systems are being implemented and new technologies such as XML and portals are entering the IT infrastructure. Frankly, this presents an incredibly tough problem of trying to harness the value of your data at the same time that it is exploding and proliferating in n number of incompatible formats and applications. Every company is confronted with this problem. The type of technology that is going to succeed in this kind of diverse, organic landscape is a technology that is much more agile and quick-moving than some of the lumbering, heavy-handed, heavy priced infrastructure solutions that other vendors provide."

"We don't subscribe to the 'one big pill' approach for every problem,"emphasizes Hoskins. "Rather, we subscribe to delivering quick-hitting economical, low TCO and high ROI solutions." He notes that customers will opt for a fast-moving vendor like Pervasive that can deliver an economical array of integration technology spanning a variety of integration scenarios, platforms and problems. "That's the kind of vendor that's going to let you scale your solutions for the actual problem you have."

Scalability is a key to keeping integration costs in check. "We love the fact our customers can scale for the size of the pain," says Hoskins. "If they want to start with a small project - build an interface, build portlets, set up their XML integration, establish a trading partner relationship, comply with HIPAA or build a data mart - Pervasive customers can purchase on a project basis. We recognize they don't necessarily want to solve world hunger with each project they tackle."

Hoskins adds that the same is true for larger projects that span the enterprise and take several years to roll out. "Given that the integration problem is not going away, a Pervasive customer can feel good about starting small, knowing they have invested in a vendor that can see the entire fabric of their integration infrastructure and understand it from the smallest integration project to the largest view of the whole integration infrastructure," he explains.

The change in business atmosphere and the tightening of IT budgets in recent years have been positive for Pervasive. According to Hoskins, "At Pervasive, we've planted our stake in the sand - we will be the low TCO value leader in delivering the data infrastructure. Pervasive data management products offer the smallest footprint, the easiest embeddability and the lowest cost of administration. As a company, we understand that the key to making the customer successful is delivering software that empowers the customer, not the vendor. Our customers receive a consistent product family deliverable on Windows platforms, Solaris platforms, HP-UX platforms, AIX platforms, Linux platforms, AS/400 platforms and the OS/390 IBM mainframe platform. There is no other vendor in this space that can deliver a core integration engine - as we call the deployment piece - across all of those server platforms. There is a unique scalability our customers enjoy on the types of integration they can tackle, there's a scalability they enjoy on the types of platforms and there's scalability because they can deploy for the size of integration solution they want to build."

"Over the long term," says Hoskins, "we want to equip businesses so they not only survive, but prosper in this age of interconnection."

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