The integration software market is a busy place, with technologies such as ETL (extract, transform, and load), ESB (enterprise service bus), CDC (change data capture) and IC-BPMS (integration-centric business process management suites) crowding the landscape. The technologies within this "integration acronym buffet" address a common requirement: they either physically or virtually deliver information from point A to point B with integrity. (For more information on the variety of integration options available, see "2009 Update: Evaluating Integration Alternatives.") Some approaches, such as ETL and ESB, have developed into multi-billion dollar stand-alone markets. But other integration alternatives, while valuable, haven't survived as well as a standalone market segment. EII (enterprise information integration) is one example of this.

In a nutshell, EII -- also often referred to as data federation -- is an umbrella term that arches over a collection of technologies and best practices for providing custom views into multiple data sources as a way of integrating data and content for real-time read and write access by applications. Though integration professionals have been using EII for many years in niche applications, it has struggled to find the ideal scenarios in which it has a clear advantage over other integration approaches.

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