Data Virtualization Links CRM, ERP and SCM

Monday Nov 1st 2010 by Herman Mehling
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Queplix unveils software that can extract data from CRM, ERP and supply chain management applications and share it across enterprises.

Data virtualization could be the next big thing in the customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise applications space.

If you can imagine an environment where you can integrate on-premise, cloud and SaaS applications quickly, easily and securely, you're on your way to understanding the potential of data virtualization. Next, imagine that you can automatically link your PeopleSoft, Vantive, Salesforce and SAP systems to provide a single continuous view of the customer.

These pretty radical concepts are already available in a product from Queplix, a leader in data virtualization. Other players in the field include Informatica, Pervasive Software, Composite Software, DataFlux and VisionWare. And the giants are also on the move.

"IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are all data management big guns with interests in the cloud, master data management and enterprise applications," said John Abbott, co-founder and chief analyst of The 451 Group.

Abbott said IBM (NYSE: IBM) has made a series of integration acquisitions, while Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) acquired product data-quality vendor Silver Creek Systems earlier this year to boost its data management credentials. And SAP (NYSE: SAP) is in the process of assimilating Sybase.

But what exactly is data virtualization? Well, Wikipedia defines data virtualization as "the presentation of data as an abstract layer, independent of underlying database systems, structures and storage."

Data virtualization allows companies to get critical customer care, sales force automation and other important CRM applications working together to improve business operations and provide better service to their customers, said Michael Zuckerman, chief marketing officer of Queplix.

Last month, Queplix released Queplix Virtual Data Manager (QVDM), a product that can manage a simple integration between two applications or scale easily to integrate multiple instances of a complex application such as Siebel or SAP.

The core of the product is its persistent metadata server, which is accessible to all applications and provides a common source of data information and truth, said Zuckerman.

"Data virtualization offers a fundamental change in the way application and data integration problems can be solved," said Abbott. "Once virtualized, the data is available for secure reuse, with potential incremental return on investment with each application."

 

Bringing ERP, CRM and SCM Together

Abbott said Queplix's strength is its metadata server, which can abstract and synchronize data from leading ERP, CRM and supply chain management applications and make it available across the enterprise.

For example, the product can harmonize data from a cloud-based solution such as Salesforce.com with data from on-premise applications such as PeopleSoft, Siebel, and SAP ERP, and supply chain management apps to provide a consistent view of data for customers.

The gateway between the target applications and data is handled by application blades, connectors that provide a virtualized gateway to the source systems.

"Blades know how to read the software to discover what's in use, and are hooked into the security capabilities of each application," said Abbott. "The blades identify and extract the key data, along with its security attributes, and bring it into the QVDM engine for harmonization."

Because QVDM stores metadata, not data, it is a thousand times faster than a relational database engine — with no performance penalty on the source systems, said Zuckerman.

Queplix allows customers to make changes to suit their business requirements without having to rewrite the entire solution, said Chad Johnson, enterprise search practice manager at Perficient, a solution provider.

"The Queplix Virtual Data Manager allows us to elevate the conversation with our customers and address the real business issues important to them," said Johnson. "We can move past the discussion of code and rapidly implement a system that is flexible and reconfigurable."

Zuckerman said Queplix integration enables a consistent view of customer, product and financial data so that vital information remains accurate across software systems.

"As a result, customers achieve far greater agility, cost savings and rapid return on their investment — up to 75 percent or more — than with legacy solutions, middleware, ETL, EII, EAI tools and very expensive data management solutions," he said.

Consistent data enhances customer service, reduces operating costs and increases operational effectiveness in many areas, said Zuckerman.

Consistent data is also an important part of compliance for chief financial officers that must certify the accuracy of reporting, he said.

 

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