Talend: open source data integration goes mainstream

It has taken almost a decade, but open source is making in-roads into the enterprise. This is not a religious battle between Windows and Linux, it is about...

It has taken almost a decade, but open source is making in-roads into the enterprise. This is not a religious battle between Windows and Linux, it is about open source middleware gaining ground.

One supplier of open source middleware is Talend, which specialises in data integration products to support the process of moving and combining data from different IT systems. Its main product Talend Open Studio (TOS) is designed to help users extract data from different sources (databases, files, applications, web services, e-mails), applying transformations (join, lookup, de-duplication, calculation) to this data and sending the resulting data to target systems.

Talend middleware

TOS comes in two editions: a free-to-download community edition and Talend Integration Studio (TIS). TIS is a subscription service that extends the community edition with technical support, IP protection and enterprise-scale capabilities such as automatic deployment, a monitoring console, grid and parallel-processing capabilities.

This type of middleware software has traditionally been the domain of commercial software houses, and is often licensed at a high premium to large end-users. But Talend is based on open source data integration, using the open source model to make data integration available to all types of organisations.

About 55% of Talend's revenues come from subscriptions, with the rest from services. Its strategy seems to involve deepening product functionality, extending enterprise capabilities and increasing support.

Bertrand Diard, co-founder and CEO of Talend, says the company aims to tackle operational data integration, an area he claims is not served well by existing products.

He says it is hard to create an off-the-shelf product to cater for this type of application, because operational data integration relies on creating links to many different types of software - often bespoke or company-specific.

"Open source provides a very good model for this type of data integration because, to be useful, the product needs lots of small connectors," Diard says.

In fact, Talend has 350, including connectors to Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, LDAP directory services and Microsoft products.

"We provide a core open source application programming interface, licensed under GPL2.0 [GNU Public Licence] and let developers create their own connectors."

Data connectors

He says this has meant that a third of data connectors in Talend are built by users, and returned to the open source community through GPL. This is because, under the terms of GPL, the source code for any enhancements to a GPL-licensed product must be handed back to the open source community.

According to analyst Ovum, the company had about 50 customers in the 15 month period after the company released TOS. But 2008 saw a big improvement, with more than 300 new customers, including Virgin Mobile, SNCF and Allianz Healthcare. And the company has secured $12m in Series C financing to help fuel further growth.

Balderton general partner Bernard Liautaud, the founder of Business Objects, will join Talend's board of directors. He is a strong believer in open source technology. "Open source has proven its maturity, and its ability to handle even the most complex needs of enterprises."

Helena Schwenk, senior analyst at Ovum says there is strong evidence of increasing market acceptance for Talend's products. She says, "Talend has had a short but successful history so far. Its approach to market is a very traditional one for a company that specialises in open source."

Schwenk says Talend is a strong contender in the data integration market, but it faces stiff competition. , First, there is growing competition from open source data integration providers such as Pentaho, Kinetic Networks, Apatar, SnapLogic and Enhydra Octopus, which are gaining mindshare among developers.

Second, Schwenk says, Talend also faces the stalwarts of the data integration market - IBM, Informatica and SAP Business Objects - which continue to deepen and expand data integration coverage.

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