Product Snapshot: DT/Studio

Embarcadero enhances ETL tool with real-time capabilities

September 13, 2002 — Earlier this year, Embarcadero Technologies entered the ETL (extraction, transformation, and loading) tools market with its launch of DT/Studio. The developer of such cross-platform database tools as DBArtisan (for database administration) and ER/Studio (for entity relationship-modeling), Embarcadero Technologies moved into the ETL space after hearing its own customers' demands.

"We were being asked repeatedly for a tool that would do cross-platform data movement, cleansing, and scrubbing—your traditional ETL tool," says Stephen Aikins, DT/Studio's product manager. ETL tools let users quickly extract data from its source and move it to a specific location. Because traditional ETL tools don't have a foundation in Java, they lack platform independence. Seeing an opportunity, Embarcadero built DT/Studio with a Java-based engine, thus setting itself apart from competing products.

"Most ETL tools have self-standing server software," says Philip Russom, research director at Giga Information Group. "But then these predate reliable JVMs. DT/Studio has the ironic advantage of being late to market. JVMs have improved significantly in the last two years or so, and it now makes sense for a processing-intense server like an ETL tool to rely on a JVM for execution."

In addition to its unusual foundation in Java, Russom also praises DT/Studio's well-developed feature set, which Embarcadero borrows from its other products, like ER/Studio. Through a visual development environment, DT/Studio lets users move data from multiple sources to any location or application in three steps:

  1. Using ER/Studio, the tool reverse-engineers the existing operational data
  2. DT/Studio transforms the data from the original source into the user-established data format
  3. It populates the target or application at the optimum speed required

Last month, Embarcadero enhanced DT/Studio's features with the Delta Agent module, which examines the source system, identifies changes, and sends only those changes to the target system. The module adds real-time capabilities to DT/Studio, which, as Russom explains, is nothing new in the ETL space. However, most ETL competitors integrate these capabilities directly into an EAI (enterprise application integration) tool.

"Informatica PowerCenter, Ascential DataStage, and Acta's [recently purchased by Business Objects] ActaWorks currently support such [real-time] integration," says Russom. "But bolting on an EAI tool is expensive and the integration is fragile."

By offering Delta Agent as a separate plug-in, Embarcadero lowers the barrier to achieving real-time capabilities. "They've developed a slightly cheaper way to get a similar near-time data movement capability that relies on replication technology," continues Russom.

Keeping DT/Studio at a moderate price point is key to Embarcadero's strategy. "Every company has a need for an ETL tool," says Aikins. "It's been a question of whether they could afford to do it."

Because most ETL tools come with a three-figure price tag, many companies, like Cerqa based in Austin, Texas, create their own version.

"Cerqa, being a supply chain management company, receives mass quantities of data from a variety of our manufacturing customers," says Mike Tiller, IT director at Cerqa. "Our IT department was facing the difficulty of integrating our customer data from a variety of different files into a single format. Certain key files had to be dumped daily."

To accomplish these goals, Cerqa's IT team manually moved these files with Microsoft Visual Basic programs written in-house, which eventually burdened Tiller's staff. In January 2002, Tiller replaced Cerqa's homegrown code with DT/Studio. "DT/Studio has allowed the Cerqa product managers to manage the data migration processes, freeing up our IT resources to handle other tasks," he says.

Tiller and his staff have found that DT/Studio's graphical interface lived up to its user-friendly promise and has provided a cost-effective solution to the company's data migration problems. "DT/Studio's drag-and-drop interface and Java foundation makes it easy to use and configure," he continues. His team uses DT/Studio without the Delta Agent module.

Tiller reports that Embarcadero's ETL tool has met all of his company's supply chain management requirements, citing DT/Studio's setup documentation and Help files as areas for improvement.

In addition to supply chain management, Aikins recommends DT/Studio for data warehousing, application migration, and application integration. Priced per CPU, DT/Studio starts at 5,000; Delta Agent is priced per data source at 5,000. For more information on DT/Studio and Delta Agent, go to http://www.embarcadero.com.

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