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Talend recently announced version 5 of its information management platform, which emphasizes unifying its various components. Through a combination of development activities, acquisitions and partnerships, Talend has been steadily building its portfolio of information management capabilities. In addition to its core data integration capabilities, it has added data quality, master data management, application integration and with this release business process management (BPM).
In its progress, Talend has exploited the open source model well. Not only has it developed a large community of users for its free version, but it has successfully used awareness and interest in the open source product to build a community of 2,500 paying customers for the commercial versions of its products. The open source concept also has influenced Talend’s acquisition and partnership strategy. Sopera, acquired by Talend last year, was an open source vendor, and the BPM capabilities in version 5 are based on a partnership created 18 months ago with open source vendor BonitaSoft.
Like other software vendors in the information management market, Talend developed its portfolio as independent products, which resulted in an array of somewhat disjointed capabilities. This problem was made worse with the acquisition of a completely independent set of products from Sopera. Customers should welcome Talend’s efforts in version 5 to create a unified information management platform. Our ongoing research in information management investigates the importance of capabilities such as data integration, data quality, master data management and application integration. Other vendors are combining these capabilities as well, but Talend has chosen to go further by adding BPM capabilities. Too many software vendors and enterprise IT departments expect customer organizations to adapt their business processes to how technology products work rather than the other way around. This misguided approach is the central theme of my post “What Is Wrong with Business Intelligence?”, and these same issues affect information management. I expect more vendors to embrace BPM as a way to combine business intelligence and information management into business processes.
With this release Talend also extends its big-data and cloud capabilities, which can be complementary. Our Business Data in the Cloud benchmarkresearch shows the importance of cloud-based data sources. Within 12 months 40 percent or more of eight different lines of business will be using cloud-based applications. Talend’s new cloud capabilities include connectors for Amazon RDS instances of Oracle and MySQL. Talend 5 also includes a REST interface for applications that require or support it. Our Hadoop and Information Management benchmark research shows that over half the organizations tackling big-data issues are using or evaluating Hadoop to meet those challenges, and in this release Talend extends its big-data capabilities to support HBase, a database component for Hadoop, and continuous streaming of information into or out of the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS).
On a minor note, Talend has renamed its open source products around the “Open Studio” theme. So now each of the four products are named “Talend Open Studio for…”. The open source version of BPM is available from BonitaSoft, so it doesn’t follow this same convention.
Now that Talend has unified its information management products, one of its remaining challenges will be to compete with integrated BI and information management suites. End users need information such as metadata and lineage to flow through both sets of products freely. But can an independent vendor provide the same level of integration as a suite vendor? Informatica, one of Talend’s competitors in the information management market, has shown that it is possible to succeed as an independent vendor. It will be important for Talend to maintain close partnerships with as many of the BI vendors as possible so it can fully support the features end users require.
Based on customer growth, it appears that Talend is succeeding with its current strategy. The new release should make the products both easier to use and more broadly applicable. If you are looking for an information management platform independent of your database, applications and BI environments, I recommend considering Talend.
David Menninger – VP & Research Director
Talend, a vendor of open source data integration tools, recently announced its acquisition of Sopera, an open source application integration company whose products are based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA). It simultaneously announced an additional $34 million of funding. As I pondered what the announcements mean, I couldn’t help but think of the bigger picture. Is this entrepreneurial action typical of an open source vendor?
That begs the question of how an open source software vendor is supposed to act. Yves de Montcheuil, Talend’s VP of marketing, is certainly speaking a lot of “French” in a recent blog post aggressively defending open source companies and his in particular. Talend does provide an open source version of its technology and has developed a community of participants who work with and presumably contribute to the open source code base. And like many other open source vendors Talend uses a “freemium” model in which the base product is available in a free, open source version, but certain premium features are only available if you purchase a license or subscription for them.
Fundamentally, open source is one among several business models for the software industry. The appeal of the open source model is the potential to grow market share more quickly than with an enterprise software model. (I’ll use this term to distinguish traditional, “proprietary” licensed software vendors from open source vendors.) By giving the software away you can attract more users to the product in the hope that some of those users will convert to paying customers before your company runs out of cash. It’s a balancing act to give away software with enough value to attract a significant community of users while also creating additional features and services that generate enough revenue to cover the entire costs of the organization. In fact it’s such a tough act that many open source companies struggle to stay alive.
This is where the announcements indicate Talend is not behaving like an open source software company, seeming to have reached a tipping point that many open source companies never reach. It is competitive enough in its market space to be able to make bold and aggressive moves such as acquiring another company. Its investors were confident enough to support the move and add $34 million to the coffers. These steps are foreign to many in the open source community.
Let’s look at that acquisition. Talend developed a portfolio of information management capabilities that includes data integration in the form of extraction, transformation and loading (ETL), data quality and master data management. Sopera adds SOA-based application integration capabilities as well as a services team. Service-oriented capabilities are particularly important when integrating cloud-based applications with on-premises applications or with other cloud-based applications. From a business perspective this gives Talend another item to add to its price list, and since Talend’s distribution and presence are much larger than Sopera’s that should help the bottom line. If you are an IT organization considering Talend, the broader capabilities could be a plus even if you don’t plan to use them initially.
While the acquisition is impressive from a business perspective, it’s not exactly innovative from a technology perspective. Open source vendors generally follow the lead of enterprise software vendors in competing primarily on price or total cost of ownership (TCO) rather than on head-to-head comparisons of features. Enterprise software vendors such as IBM, Informatica and SAP have a similar or broader suite of capabilities including application integration. But our research on information management shows the importance of managing costs to help drive return on investment (ROI), and enterprises have rewarded innovations in the form of a business model that reduces costs.
My conclusion is that Talend both is and isn’t acting like an open source vendor. It has used the open source business model to its advantage and now appears to be in a position to act more like an enterprise software company. Regardless of what the business model is, the new capabilities and new funding should make Talend products more attractive to enterprise IT organizations.