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Before Informatica or Ascential were ever heard of, ETI was one of the founders of the ETL (extract, transform and load) market. However, while the product was always technically excellent, the company was just that: technically focused. Whenever I speak to journalists and they ask me about the potential success of this or that company I always tell them that it will depend on marketing—creating a great product is easy (well, relatively easy) but successfully marketing it is another story altogether.
ETI fell into exactly that trap and if it hadn’t had the US Department of Defense as a major customer it is arguable that the company would have gone out of business years ago. However, all that has now changed: with a new management team, new funding and a much more market-oriented focus. The company tells me that when the new management team took over it had just one sales person: now it has ten.
As a part of this new approach ETI has become much more partner friendly and the fruits of this stance are evidenced by the recent release of two new products: ETI Data Profiler and ETI Data Cleanser both of which were originally developed by partner companies both of which, co-incidentally, are from the UK (ETI is US-based). In the case of Data Profiler the original developer is Business Data Quality, while Data Cleanser is from the Belfast-based Datactics. In the first instance, what this means is that both products are relatively mature. For example, most new products in the data profiling space do not initially have full three-dimensional profiling (that is, supporting column, table and cross-table profiling), which Data Profiler does. So both products have some pedigree.
However, it is not as simple as throwing in a couple of third-party products and reselling them. ETI has integrated the products (so that, for example, the results of profiling can be used as input to cleansing), both with its own repository and with each other, and made sure that they have the same look and feel as the company’s main product (which is helped by the fact that they are all .NET based).
So, that’s interesting. But can ETI really make much headway in the face of stiff competition in its chosen market? Well, it is a lot less expensive than Informatica or IBM, it has hosted offerings, it has a build to order offer based on a fixed time and fixed price, and it is offering purpose-built connectors, so it certainly has some things going for it.
In terms of data quality ETI has one facility that you do not usually see in other products, and that is issue management. When you profile the data and discover a problem, what do you do next? Send someone the details and hope they get on with it? Shouldn’t it be treated just like a trouble ticket? You could export the relevant data to Tivoli or Unicenter or some other systems management tool but wouldn’t it make more sense to be able to do that within the data quality environment? This is exactly what ETI Data Profiler does. And you can raise issues in ETI Data Cleanser and send them into issue management as well.
The upshot of all of this is that ETI has both technical and market advantages when contrasted with its various rivals. That is not to deny that its competitors do not have advantages of their own but at least the company has created differentiators that it can leverage: now it all depends on sales and marketing but at least the company is now well set up to capitalise on that.