Enterprise Information Integration Defined

Enterprise Information Integration or EII is defined in Wikipedia as “a process of information integration, using data abstraction to provide a single interface for viewing all the data within an organization, and a single set of structures and naming conventions to represent this data; the goal of EII is to get a large set of heterogeneous data sources to appear to a user or system as a single, homogeneous data source.”

Enterprise Information Integration: Why it is Needed?

“Enterprise Information Integration is an approach to integration that has arisen out of the need for organizations to identify and correlate related, but separate data,” according to JP Morganthal, author of the seminar book on EII entitled Enterprise Information Integration: A Pragmatic Approach.

“Enterprise Information Integration allows users to derive new data structures and information models without having to understand the nuances of underlying data structures, data locations, data types, etc.  In essence, EII solutions provide access to the data without the hindrances of the underlying technology.”

Who Benefits from Enterprise Information Integration?

Both the business and IT benefit from Enterprise Information Integration.

“For business users, Enterprise Information Integration removes the barriers to accessing enterprise data and provides a common infrastructure to transform that data into usable information, usually on demand”, according to Morganthal.

“For the technologist, Enterprise Information Integration simplifies the longstanding data integration problem by applying a ‘semantic veneer’ over the complex physical data layer.”

How has Enterprise Information Integration Evolved?

A number of enterprise software vendors, including a number of start-ups entered the Enterprise Information Integration market between 2001 and 2005 when Morganthal authored his book on the subject.

Some of the new entrants included:

  • Avaki
  • Certive
  • Collixa
  • Cisco
  • IBM
  • Ipedo
  • Journee
  • Mediance
  • Metamatrix
  • Metatomix
  • Nimble
  • Snapbridge
  • Xaware
  • And more.

Because of the unique technical challenges including high performance queries across complex IT infrastructures, the diverse set of sources and users required, security, enterprise scalability and more, many of these companies failed to achieve success. Of this list, only Cisco and IBM remain in the market today, a testament to their Cisco’s technology leadership and IBM’s market presence.

In recent years, Enterprise Information Integration has been replaced by Data Virtualization as the term of choice to describe the broader set of data discovery, access, federation, abstraction, and delivery capabilities in use at large enterprises and government agencies today.

The Cisco Data Virtualization Platform is considered by many as the data virtualization and thus Enterprise Information Integration gold standard.

Where is Enterprise Information Integration Going?

While the term Enterprise Information Integration will be used with less frequency in future years, the business and IT challenges that spanned this technology continue as enterprises strive to integrate ever higher volumes of disparate complex data, ever faster, for less.

In their November 2009 Data Integration Magic Quadrant, Gartner estimated overall data integration tools market including ETL, CDC, and data virtualization growth of approximately 9.4% per year. However the data virtualization segment alone is growing much faster as measured by Cisco’s revenue growth which is five times that rate. This demonstrates accelerated adoption by enterprises and government agencies.