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Is the accepted way of doing things always the best way to do things? Intuitively, one would have to answer ‘no’ to that question. One company that certainly thinks so is Sesame Software.
Sesame offers two products: ‘Relational Junction for Salesforce’ and ‘Relational Junction ETL Manager’. Neither of these products fits the common mould but both are worth serious consideration.
To start with the ETL (extract, transform and load) product first, the most immediate and obvious difference between this product and every other offering you have seen for a very long time is that it does not have a drag-and-drop, palette-based environment.
Why not? Because the product is targeted at experienced SQL programmers. Do such people need drag-and-drop? Or is a tabular, automated environment enough? There is certainly a good argument to be made in favour of the latter, particularly given the relative price point of Relational Junction ETL Manager. Of course, it means that the interface is not much use for sharing information with end users but then, how many data movement projects actually require such interaction? Certainly some do but many do not. And even where such collaboration is required, is it actually necessary to have that functionality built in to the system, or could you do it just as easily with Visio?
Probably the best way to describe Relational Junction ETL Manager is as a lean, mean machine. It doesn’t have all the sorts of bells and whistles that some other tools do (and which you hardly ever use) it just focuses on doing the basics as well as possible. Put simply, the idea behind the product is that if you can do it in SQL then you can do it in Relational Junction ETL Manager.
From an architectural perspective, metadata is stored in XML files so no database is required and you can execute transforms on the source, target or an intermediate platform, as required. Source and target support, however, is relatively limited, to Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase and XML files (for input); though the company says that it can deliver a new integration within a week. It is currently planning support for Foxpro (for a customer) and CSV files. It is also planning to add further validation functions to the software as these are relatively limited at present.
Relational Junction for Salesforce is a tool designed to support the population and use of Salesforce.com. Again, Sesame has not taken the conventional approach. Rather than provide a spreadsheet-based solution which will have limited scalability, in this case it creates a database (it works with Oracle, SQLServer, MySQL, and Sybase) that mirrors your Salesforce.com data and then provides replication to keep the two synchronised.
There is a case of contrarianism in a wide variety of fields, not least when investing in the stock market. When it comes to software tools, sticking to what you believe (not being seduced by hype) and targeting your products at specific users has a lot to commend it.