Q&A: Pat Walsh, Talend, discusses application integration

Talend provides open source middleware solutions that enable organisations to gain more value from their applications, systems and databases. Shattering the traditional proprietary model, Talend democratises the integration market by providing enterprise-grade open source technologies that cover both the data integration and application integration needs of organisations of all sizes. We spoke to Pat Walsh, VP marketing at Talend, to discuss the company’s unified integration platform.

What is application integration?

Application integration refers to the set of tools that enable an organisation to meet the demands of any enterprise integration challenge. The core of application integration is built on an enterprise service bus―or ESB―a standards-based connectivity layer used to integrate distributed systems across functional, enterprise, and/or geographic boundaries. Capabilities of an ESB include messaging, Web services, intelligent routing, and data transformation.

Can you give us a background on Talend’s Application Integration Division and its offering?

Talend’s foray into application integration began at the end of 2010 when we acquired Sopera, a German provider of software and services for the SOA/ESB market based on an open source business model. Following this, we developed and launched a new ESB offering in May, which when combined with Talend’s leading open source data management products forms the industry’s first ever unified platform for data services.

You recently launched 4.2c, the first comprehensive and unified integration platform for the Cloud. What was the reasoning behind this move?

Following our announcement of our unified platform for data services, we announced Talend Cloud (Version 4.2c), a unified platform for integration of on-premise, public and private cloud environments. With greater usage of the cloud in IT organisation, there is an increasing demand to integrate your applications and data while preserving the benefits of the cloud, namely elasticity and cost effectiveness while preserving performance, reliability and security. Talend Cloud enables enterprises large and small to achieve these benefits.

What type of organisations would need to use such a tool for managing their data?

Over the past decade, ESBs were primarily used by large organisations to address complex and heterogeneous integration challenges. Today, with the emergence of the cloud and the integration complexity that it adds to large and small companies alike, ESBs are being used by organisations of all sizes. By offering Talend ESB as both Standard and Enterprise editions, we are able to serve the needs of this diverse population of users.

What are the business benefits of Version 4.2c?

Version 4.2c or Talend Cloud benefits enterprises by integrating the data and applications that support critical business processes spanning hybrid computing environments―a combination of on-premise, public cloud and private cloud IT infrastructure. By offering over 450 connectors and components, many designed specifically for popular cloud-based and SaaS applications, Talend Cloud simplifies the integration of these business processes.

Businesses benefit from the greater affordability, accessibility and ease-of-use of our open source version of Talend Cloud, which reduces cost and speeds time-to-market for new business solutions. Further, businesses benefit from the greater productivity and efficiency that the Enterprise Edition provides through the inclusion of richer tools for development and operations teams.

When looking for a suitable application integration tool, what should people look out for?

Application integration tools must be flexible, reliable, extensible and affordable. Integration projects come in all shapes and sizes so the application integration platform that you choose needs to be flexible enough to accommodate a variety of use cases. Often, the business processes and applications that are being integrated are mission-critical to your business, thus your application integration tool must be reliable, secure and high-performing.

The future of a business is hard to predict so your application integration solution must adapt with these changes so extensibility of the solution is a must. And finally, integration projects can be complex. Make sure that your solution doesn’t require an army of expensive consultants or the purchase of a stack of technology that you don’t intend to use.

Application integration solutions should be open, modular and easy-to-use to provide the greatest return on investment to the organisation. At Talend, we believe that Talend Cloud, consisting of an ESB complemented by rich data management designed for deployment in hybrid environments provides an excellent solution for application integration.

How does Talend differ to its competitors in application integration?

Our main difference is that at Talend we have the industry’s first open source unified platform for application integration and data management. The unified platform provides a consistent development, deployment, runtime and monitoring environment allowing our ESB to work in conjunction with the rest of our data management packages including our data integration, data quality and master data management offerings.

The offering of a common toolset, for both data and application integration needs, shortens the time to deployment for integration, by eliminating the need to learn multiple tools and environments. And by offering the products as open source, they are more affordable and accessible to a broad set of users.

What advice would you give to someone not yet convinced about unified integration?

What CIOs and managers are now realising is that the role and impact of integration has shifted, due in large part to major trends such as cloud computing and the management of massive data sets. The shift to cloud has made application integration and data management a reality for small- to medium-sized businesses as well as the larger enterprises that traditionally required sophisticated integration solutions.

However, these smaller organisations do not have the resources and budgets to afford specialised staff or consultants focused on application and data domains distinctly. The result of this is that a more comprehensive and managed approach to integration is required, and the tools that support enterprise integration must be useable by a wider spectrum of employees.

This democratisation of IT is rapidly progressing into the more traditionally complex and isolated worlds of application and data integration. Organisations must address this by allowing themselves access to a flexible and open architecture, enabling them to take advantage of as many applications and data resources as they can.

The adoption of cloud computing has soared in recent months. Why do you think this is and what is your vision for the cloud in the next six months?

What is clear is that cloud computing represents the next major evolution of delivering services from providers to end-users. I believe that the explosion of cloud is based in the Software-as-a-Service model, which during such tough economic times has provided SMBs in particular with the opportunity to save money by only paying for applications as they require them, rather than having to commit to a large proportion of their expenditure on annual licensing.

We believe that within the next six months a majority of organisations will be procuring many of their applications from the cloud. However, the evolution to the cloud will happen gradually and will require integration with applications and data that remain on-premise. Thus, the need for products such as Talend Cloud.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.