In the comments to another thread, the subject of EII (Enterprise Information Integration) came up. It’s a tricky one, for several reasons.
First, it’s a marketing construction — a blend between between ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration). It’s a legitimate category; all those things are getting smushed together as near-real-time apps become more prominent. Still, it’s also an attempt to grab marketing turf.
Second, it’s commonly associated with a marketing overreach — the claim that an EII “platform” or “suite” will do everything a DBMS does (almost), but fully and heterogeneously distributed as well. Yeah, right.
Third, two of the sharpest proponents have been acquired by behemoths that tend to obscure their acquirees marketing pitches — Ascential by IBM and SeeBeyond by Sun.
Fourth, some of the best grand integrated EII suites (at least the ones that started as ETL, which is the side I’m more familiar with) aren’t complete yet. So vendors didn’t want to be too clear for fear of freezing current sales. I’m referring here mainly to Ascential and Informatica. They told analysts of their grand plans, but they haven’t been so eager to openly publicize the full details.
Fifth, the area is getting integrated with development tools for composite applications. Good examples there are SeeBeyond and Intersystems’ Cache’.
Sixth, no EII vendors’ plans fully work unless they have full relational and XML integration, and nobody really has been doing a great job on that, typically being strong in one area or the other.
Obviously, this is an area I have to research actively; EII is the neuromuscular system that holds DBMS2 together. But all the research in the world won’t change the fact that as of now it’s the weak spot in the story. There’s lots of great database management technology, and lots of excellent reasons to use a variety of kinds of that technology in your enterprise. But the tools to knit the resulting heterogeneous databases together are still sadly deficient.