Queplix – a different sort of data virtualisation

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Also posted on: The IM Blog

Queplix sees itself as being in the data virtualisation market. But it doesn’t mean by data virtualisation what some other vendors in the data federation and mashup spaces mean. They are interested in federated queries or in building applications by grabbing information from diverse places. What Queplix is targeting, albeit using the same fundamental idea, is the ongoing harmonisation of applications located in different places, which effectively means that it is using data virtualisation to solve (some) of the problems associated with EAI (enterprise application integration).

Queplix sees two major markets for its products: firstly, in the integration of applications and data that reside in different places, notably in the cloud versus on premises. There is a serious issue if you want to keep cloud-based and on-premise applications synchronised and you would normally, perhaps, use a data integration tool of some kind but Queplix offers a lower cost, purpose-built alternative.

The second market that Queplix addresses is data management.  Queplix can scale a solution from the synchronization of data (they call this data harmonization) between two or three different application systems and then continue to add applications until the level of scale approaches the high end data management capabilities of master data management (MDM). Queplix includes some automated data alignment/quality, business process alignment and overall synchronisation capabilities in a manner that is similar to MDM. Unlike MDM however, these don’t require the construction of a common data model and pretty much avoid manual processes. Instead, Queplix synchronises the chosen application systems and builds from the bottom up, using its automated tool set—as opposed to the top–down approach that is typical of master data management.

In terms of companies and organisations Queplix is particularly targeting the mid-market where traditional high-end MDM vendors are too expensive for most companies, especially given all of the manual processes that are typical of many MDM implementations.

From a technical perspective there are some interesting differences between Queplix’s approach and that of other data virtualisation vendors. In particular, while other suppliers use a traditional entity-relationship (ER) approach to model virtual relationships Queplix is more object oriented. This has two advantages. First, it lends itself to the business oriented approach that Queplix takes (this is a tool primarily for business analysts rather than IT developers) and secondly you get all the benefits of encapsulation, polymorphism and inheritance that come naturally with an object oriented approach.

Another distinction is that while what Queplix calls “application software blades” can be thought of as connectors they are actually quite different from typical connectors. This is because they have knowledge of the source and the relevant metadata applying to that source, they know how to create an object (for example, an SAP sales order—you see what I mean by working at the business level?) and they have the same security levels as defined in the source system. Of course this means that each source blade has to be specifically built though there are generic blades available. The company also plans to introduce an API that will allow users to build their own blades.

Finally, you can define the level of harmonisation that you want: configuring the system, by source, to ensure synchronisation every four hours, say. As I mentioned earlier, you can also build data quality into the process of harmonisation though Queplix relies on partners for this purpose rather than providing it themselves.  The key point, however, is that Queplix automates the integration and the ongoing operation of these data quality initiatives to keep the data in alignment between the different systems.

In summary, this is an interesting extension to the concept of data virtualisation and I can see smaller and mid-market companies, and even departments within larger organisations, opting for Queplix as an alternative to traditional and more expensive approaches.