Semantic integration is something I wrote about some time ago, but is definitely getting more attention than it used to. This week we see the launch of expressor, a start-up with some interesting features but amongst other things it plays in the semantic integration field. There are also products such as DataXtend from Progress, Contivo (bought by Liaison), Software AG’s Information Integrator, 42 Objects and Pantero, while early pioneer Unicorn was bought some time ago by IBM. Arguably, the technology used by certain data quality vendors such as Exeros and SilverCreek also qualifies.
Given the scale of the SOA bandwagon, I am a little surprised that semantic integration does not get even more attention. Perhaps it is the partly the name: “semantic” and “ontology” are hardly the terms that a marketer would come up with in trying to sell this technology to a mass audience. Moreover the problem is quite a deep one, and it is going to be a clever technology indeed that can browse through a company’s applications and derive a meaningful business model that captures all the implied meaning that is currently embedded within data models, database stored procedures and application code in all its guises.
Still, at least now there are a number of technologies starting to address the problem, and the market will decide which ones work and which ones are just marketing fluff. As SOA rumbles on, I expect to see more activity in this space, and more M&A activity as the larger vendors wake up to the importance of this area. However, it would be really nice if someone managed to come up with some decent names for this market. I had thought that “ontology” was a term that I could safely bury away in the recesses of my mind after I completed my philosophy subsidiary course at University. I can’t see it making to mass media, can you? “Link: The new semantic integration software with its own ontology endorsed by David Beckham” isn’t likely to be wending its way to a TV advert any time soon.