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Exclusive Q&A with John Goodson, VP & GM of DataDirect Technologies

Data Services World 2008 West: The New Frontier for Data Integration

SOAWorld Magazine: What principally differentiates DataDirect Technologies’ products from native database drivers or open-source alternatives?

Unlike all other alternatives, DataDirect drivers use a “wire protocol” design that eliminates the need for database client software and libraries. This allows DataDirect drivers to communicate at the most direct level possible.

By forming network packets from the database’s native communication protocol, DataDirect’s clientless architecture effectively removes a communication layer resulting in much faster performance. With DataDirect drivers, there’s no need to install or keep up with various versions of the database client libraries, greatly simplifying installation and administration. We believe that our drivers are a key foundation technology for building a high performance data service layer.

SOAWorld Magazine:
What’s the role, within SOA of XQuery? What are the advantages, for enterprise IT architects and developers, of using XQuery? How easy is it to learn?

The DataDirect XML data integration products are natural for SOA because they facilitate reuse. The XQuery language has become a key technology for integrating heterogeneous data sources within SOA. Often our customers are looking for a lightweight mechanism to bring together XML documents, relational data, and Web services and they find our products to be well suited to this use case.
An effective XQuery implementation, such as DataDirect XQuery®, provides an easy, efficient way to create data services, exposing XML-based, abstracted interfaces to a variety of heterogeneous data sources. The availability of robust, scalable, and performant implementations makes XQuery one of the best options in the data management area in support of SOA and service-oriented computing. XQuery is a language that is intuitive for enterprise IT architects and developers who already deal with data manipulation and query in their applications. We also offer an award-winning development tool – Stylus Studio – to help developers get going.

SOAWorld Magazine:
DataDirect Technologies has a XQuery engine for most relational databases. Does it plug in only to a Java architecture?

DataDirect XQuery is implemented in Java and runs on any J2SE 1.4 or higher Java platform. It can be made to interact with applications running on .NET via Web service interfaces.

SOAWorld Magazine:
Do you also help with the Microsoft .NET side of things?
DataDirect XQuery has the ability to invoke Web services to access and aggregate data abstracted by a Web service layer. Additionally, DataDirect XQuery can itself be exposed as a Web service that can be called by Web service applications residing on .NET. This feature allows applications on .NET platforms leverage DataDirect’s superior XQuery functionality to access, aggregate and unify data on J2EE platforms.

SOAWorld Magazine:
How big do you think real-time event processing or complex event processing (CEP) is going to become? What’s the principal driver there?

Within the context of SOA, business requirements (i.e., BPM and BAM initiatives) dictate the need for detecting and reacting to complex patterns comprised of multiple events. Real-time event processing enables streaming events from different data sources to be analyzed and actionable data mined in real time.

For legacy systems, events can be captured then transformed into XML and “pushed” asynchronously via multiple messaging and communication protocols. Tremendous value lies in discovering and understanding the complex patterns of business events in a real-time fashion. Advanced SOA, or the combining of Event Driven Architectures (EDA) and SOA, allows critical business decisions to be made and sophisticated automation to be implemented.

SOAWorld Magazine:
What other emerging trends should we be keeping our eyes on within data access and data services?

The emerging Service Data Objects (SDO) standard is certain to gain traction as the use of data services become more and more prevalent. The SDO standard, developed by a diverse group of leading technology vendors including DataDirect, IBM, BEA, Oracle and SAP participating in the OASIS SDO working group is designed to simplify and unify the way applications use data within an SOA.
SDO is a unique data access standard because it offers applications and services participating in a SOA to access any kind of data including relational, XML or application-specific data objects, from various kinds of data sources in a consistent standards-based way via synchronous or asynchronous service calls. This is a key requirement to reap the agility and reusability of SOA. Too often, data access is an overlooked aspect of building a SOA until the number of applications and services accessing the data become too difficult to manage using tightly coupled connections. SDO is designed to address these problems.

Quick Corporate Hits…
SOAWorld Magazine: What briefly is the formal relationship between DataDirect Technologies & Progress Software?
DataDirect Technologies is an operating unit of Progress Software. We were acquired by Progress in 2003 and have maintained operations as an independent business unit within the Progress family of companies.

SOAWorld Magazine:
What was the significance of your $68M acquisition of Neon Systems in 2006? What extra technology or capabilities did that bring on board?

Yes, in 2006 Progress Software acquired NEON Systems, merging NEON with the DataDirect Technologies to extend data connectivity leadership and add mainframe integration for service-oriented architecture (SOA) and real-time event stream processing.

With the addition of the Shadow mainframe integration platform, DataDirect now offers a single, foundation architecture that supports all industry standard requirements for integrating mainframe data, business logic, and screens using industry-standard interfaces. Extending its data access and integration capabilities to the mainframe and legacy systems, rounds out DataDirect’s product offering and positions us as the industry standard for standards-based data access. We now offer the most comprehensive line of software for connecting the world’s most critical applications to data and services, running on any platform, using proven and emerging standards.
And lastly…

SOAWorld Magazine: DataDirect Technologies is the Diamond Sponsor of SYS-CON Events' upcoming one-day conference, DataServices World – co-located with the 14th International SOA World Conference & Expo, in San Jose, California on November 20. Did you ever think ten-plus years ago, when you first got involved, that data services would become such a hot topic as to attract top-level speakers, sponsors and attendees to a distinct and independent event?

DataDirect has built its 20-year reputation on being the de facto standard for data access. We pride ourselves on leading the market in addressing changing data access requirements. We believe data services to be the new frontier for data integration and we are delighted to be a part of this major, new initiative by SYS-CON Events. DataServices World is certain to be a high-value event for architects and developers serious about building robust and sustainable architectures that use cutting-edge technologies to access, integrate and process data from multiple sources while guaranteeing security and scalability.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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