I usually regard a single instance of something as (possibly) interesting, a second as maybe a coincidence and a third as a trend. On that basis Ab Initio, the reclusive data integration vendor, is definitely under attack.
Now, it is not as if Ab Initio has not had some serious competition in the past. It has been going head-to-head with Informatica for some time, for example. And now that IBM salespeople are being encouraged to target non-IBM accounts the same would be true for Information Server and, for that matter, SAP Business Objects and Dataflux. However, while these companies may meet and beat Ab Initio in new deployment bake-offs there has previously been little incentive for existing Ab Initio users to move away from that platform. This is because Ab Initio, while expensive, has very high performance and an excellent reputation for looking after its customers. And it's not as if Informatica, IBM and the rest aren't pretty expensive too.
However, that is all changing and to illustrate that point I will refer back to my three instances. Briefly, my three instances are that expressor is actively targeting Ab Initio and, according to expressor, is winning proofs of concept against Ab Initio on performance grounds. Secondly, Talend is also actively targeting Ab Initio accounts with its newly introduced massively parallel option. And, thirdly, I ran across an account that has replaced Ab Initio with Streambase's event processing engine, not that Streambase is actively targeting this market.
So, why is what expressor and Talend doing important? Because they can not only match or beat Ab Initio in performance terms, they are also much less expensive. I see the situation as analogous to the data warehousing market when Netezza first entered that space. In Netezza's first customer win against Teradata the total cost of the new system was less than the annual maintenance of the system it replaced. This is exactly the sort of proposition that expressor and Talend are offering to Ab Initio customers and, in these recessionary times in particular, these are offers that are likely to look very tempting.
Moreover, if the data warehousing analogy is anything to go by then as expressor and Talend start to pick up more and more Ab Initio customers then more competitors (Pervasive with its Datrush engine, for example) will appear in the market trying to do the same thing. And, of course, Informatica, IBM and the other mainstream vendors will also be under threat, just as Oracle and others have come under attack in the warehousing sector. It looks like interesting times ahead for the data integration market.