Solonde – another new(ish) ETL vendor

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Solonde is an acronym for SOLutions ON Demand and it is pronounced with an accented final e. It was founded in 2002 based on technology developed at Hamburg University and in fact consists of two companies: Solonde AG based in Germany and a separate US-based Solonde. Needless to say, development continues in Germany.

Before I go on to discuss the company’s products, it is worth commenting on their names. They all have the suffix OnDemand: according to Solonde it actually came up with this epithet before IBM.

My primary interest in Solonde is in its TransformOnDemand product, which is a data integration product within the ETL (extract, transform and load) sector. However, it is also worth noting its ExtractOnDemand for SAP, complementary product, which does what its name suggests, avoiding the need for any ABAP knowledge. Anyway, back to my primary interest – TransformOnDemand.

There are several significant differences between Solonde’s products and the traditional vendors in this space. The first is that TransformOnDemand was engineered from the outset to support grid computing. That doesn’t mean that you have to use grid – departments and SMBs will not normally need to, but enterprises can if they want to. Note that this is significantly different from Informatica adding this capability to an existing product, for example. With TransformOnDemand all transformation rules are stored in a common repository, and each processor in the grid (Windows, Unix and Linux are all supported) accesses the repository for the rules that it needs, so that variations on ETL (TEL, ELT and so on) can all be supported if required (though this is less likely in a grid environment).

Another major difference is the rules engine itself: most ETL tools simply support functional expressions but TransformOnDemand also supports procedural logic, so that complex transformations should be easy to program without the need to call external code. You can, however, use JavaScript if you want to. Another big focus for Solonde has been the emphasis on making the product easy to install and easy to use.

I could go on but there is one other thing that I need to mention and that is pricing. Solonde’s goal is to make data integration available to any company regardless of location, size and budget. In other words, it way undercuts the major vendors. It is able to do this because it takes a try before you buy approach – download it from the company’s website, try it out and then there is incremental pricing based on the scale of the solution that you are implementing.

This is not the only sales approach taken by Solonde: it is also targeting OEM partners and it has gained several since the product first became generally available in April this year (a controlled release version has been available since August 2004). Interestingly, one of these companies is (was) a long-term Ascential (IBM) DataStage user, which says a good deal for the quality of TransformOnDemand.

Solonde is not a big company (some 50 people, entirely self-financed) but it has serious prospects: it is definitely worth a look.