Survey reveals data integration projects increasing, but manual processes still dominate

Slough – 5 March 2007

Independent research firm finds global enterprises frustrated with ‘brute force manual approach’ and are looking to SOA to help

Progress Software Corporation (Nasdaq: PRGS), a provider of leading application infrastructure software to develop, deploy, integrate and manage business applications, today announced the results of a study it commissioned from Forrester Consulting revealing data integration efforts are increasing across most major industries as a result of the demand for real-time globally accessible data. According to findings, information technology (IT) professionals are severely challenged in keeping pace – still mired in manual processes and ad hoc fixes.

The survey of 407 senior IT decision makers at companies with more than $250 million in annual revenues found that manual efforts remain the dominant approach for integration of data silos. 87 percent of respondents rely on newly developed code to integrate data, while 80 percent still manually change schemas as required. According to the findings, while these percentages will slightly decrease over the next two years, manual processes will continue to trump automation.

“It comes as no surprise that integration remains a significant challenge to IT,” said Hub Vandervoort, CTO, Enterprise Infrastructure Division, Progress Software Corporation. “What is a surprise, however, is IT’s approach to trying to solve these challenges through manual and ad hoc processes. These results are a clear call to action for the vendor community to provide minimally invasive and easy-to-use tools while providing support for data federation without the need for extensive schema changes.”

Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that they had undertaken four or more integration efforts over the past two years, and the majority of respondents didn’t see this number decreasing in the near future. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed predicted that the number of integration efforts will increase during the next two years, while 41 percent said it will stay the same.

The survey results identified service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a growing solution across enterprises to achieve successful end-to-end data management and integration results.

Although popular, manual approaches have some significant drawbacks according to the respondents. Among those who write code for each integration effort, 75 percent reported increased maintenance costs due to application complexity and 71 percent suffered from increased cycle time to integrate new applications. And 71 percent of respondents who rely on schema changes to support new applications said that one of their challenges is slow response to required application changes. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) reported problems with unforeseen breakage of other applications dependent on the same data.

“It comes as no surprise that integration remains a significant challenge to IT,” said Hub Vandervoort, CTO, Enterprise Infrastructure Division, Progress Software Corporation. “What is a surprise, however, is IT’s approach to trying to solve these challenges through manual and ad hoc processes. These results are a clear call to action for the vendor community to provide minimally invasive and easy-to-use tools while providing support for data federation without the need for extensive schema changes.”

The survey also found that an SOA-based approach is gaining ground quickly; while 44 percent of enterprises use SOA today, 59% of respondents reported that they plan to use SOA for integration efforts over the next two years.

“With evidence that yesterday’s integration solutions are all still well represented (e.g. EAI, ETL, MDM and Data Hubs) it’s clear that the need to manage data integration in a heterogeneous setting is helping to drive SOA adoption,” continued Vandervoort.

The study also revealed that 32 of 53 finance and insurance companies responding to the survey, as well as 13 of the 33 utility companies, and 20 of the 43 public sector are using SOA today as the basis for application and data integration. Although the media entertainment and leisure sectors lag in adopting SOA today, with 10 of 29 respondents reporting use of SOA, by 2009 usage will spike with a total of 17 of 28 media entertainment and leisure respondents planning to use SOA.

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