Progress Software's Data Direct and Data Direct Cloud solve two key problems facing IT, company executives told iTWire.
It starts by providing a consistent, easy and secure way of accessing data from a wide variety of cloud and on-premises sources, explained vice president for product management and product marketing Jamie Merritt.
For example, an organisation might be adopting a cloud CRM yet still needs access to thousands of records of contact information currently stored in Siebel running in-house. Or it may be that data residency requirements mandate the storage of certain data in-country, yet it needs to be accessible to a cloud-based system running in overseas data centres.
Bringing together data from multiple types of sources is "something we make easy." he said.
Mr Merritt also pointed out that it can be used to bridge SaaS applications, as it can access them via APIs or "any network accessible way." These mechanisms can be used equally to combine data Dynamics and Salesforce.com for reporting after an acquisition (using a single API), or to keep a copy of your Salesforce.com or QuickBooks data on premises.
The fact that Data Direct has excellent performance is "a big winner for us," Mr Picco said.
Data Direct Cloud can be used to provide mobile data connectivity, Mr Merritt said, providing an opportunity to build richer apps that easily access data from multiple sources.
But the data needed is typically behind firewall, said Mr Picco. Data Direct Cloud's REST/JSON interface means there is no need to open additional ports in firewall. "It's a huge accelerator" for enterprise mobility, he said.
Page 2: Self-service data.
The other major application of Data Direct is to provide users with self-service access to data.
Growing numbers of workers are familiar with using BI and other analytical tools. Yet preparing data for these BI tools usually means involving IT staff, and can take 80% of the time for the whole exercise, Mr Merritt said.
Progress Easyl makes this a self-service task. While he initially didn't expect IT departments to like this idea, it turned out that they do as it allows business users to get things done without bothering already overworked IT staff: "it keeps the work out of their queue."
Looking ahead, Mr Picco expects Data Direct will support an even wider range of sources, such as NoSQL and various in-memory databases.
Mr Merritt foreshadowed support for additional applications, notably Google Analytics, as users want to bring that data into their BI and data warehouse systems, among others, rather than using it on a standalone basis.
User experience improvements are on the cards for the self-service data side. Progress needs to address needs of "real end users with different levels of technical skills," he said, and to provide ways of dealing with data quality issues.
"It's messy", he said, giving as an example the way alternative spellings of 'Belgium' such as 'België', 'Belgique' and 'Belgien' may appear in one database according to which country the data was entered.
Disclosure: The writer travelled to the Progress Exchange conference as the guest of the company.