Right of reply - the software suppliers answer back?

And a first introduction to Expressor. At a recent speaking engagement when my good friends from Celona were present, I was going through the outline architecture of the perfect Data Migration software suite. Tony Sceales - co-founder of Celona - called me out when I suggested that one of the missing elements in software available today was the necessary workflow arrangements around DM.

To précis the debate, I was suggesting that a Data Migration software architecture needs a number of elements:

- A Landscape Analysis tool
- An “inflow” Data Quality tool
- The Extract Transform and Load tool (including the scheduling and flow management hub)
- A workflow tool to communicate tasks with the disparate array of Stakeholders in the business tasks (like the handling of fallout)

The point I was trying to make was that although industry analysts like Philip Howard of Bloor Research are right to say that there is not a single supplier, yet, with the whole package sewn up (or at least not a single supplier with the whole package sewn up and using the most desirable business model based architecture) as people who have to move data today, we can put together a set of packages that supply the end to end components.

The one part that I was doubtful about was the ability of the software suites designed for longer running migrations to maintain the correct level of communication with the broader migration team.

Now here I have to digress again (this may be the longest apologia I have ever written – and I’ve written a few). Back in the day when Big Bang migrations were the default, comms was less of an issue. Over the nail biting hours of a bank holiday weekend a team of techie and business folk would take it in turns to sit watching the migration cook. Rather like firemen in the station, hoping not to be called out we would sit about playing cards, eating pizza and waiting the call.

Now this has all changed. The modern data migration can take place over months or even years as small parts of the source application are moved over in a controlled fashion. This is a big improvement, but the challenge is that, especially for the business elements, there is no justification for pulling people from the day job on the off chance that they may be needed to fix things and then holding them idling for months. What we need now is an automated communication mechanism that informs the right people at the right time when intervention is required, bearing in mind that these people could be anywhere in the business and anywhere in the world.

And here I accused the industry of slacking.

So last week I was in the offices of Celona being shown the first elements of a workflow that spawns from the Celona Migration Controller. Because the Controller writes to and from an internal metadata repository, which records the states of all the migration units being transmitted, and because that metadata repository is an industry standard Oracle data base, it is possible to link those messages to a workflow product that will deliver them to the right person.

Of course this implies that there needs to be a process wrap around the software that has identified the right people, briefed them, provided them with the tools, created dashboard visibility of this activity etc. But that is a theme for another blog on another day. Suffice it is for today to show that there is such a capability at least in nascence. But again, I would argue, one that needs to be built on in a real implementation, with other linking tools.

So one up for Tony and Celona then.

Finally onto Expressor. For a while now Celona have had it all their own way as a built from the ground up, model based, data migration tool, but I was recently introduced to Expressor who kindly talked me through their slightly different approach to the use of embedded business models in migration software. I have a couple of questions outstanding with them but they will be the subject of next week’s blog.

There are other software pretenders out there as well now - surely the sign of a maturing market? I’ll try to cover off some of them between now and the Christmas break.

Johny Morris

About the author

John Morris has over 20 years experience in IT as a programmer, business analyst, project manager and data architect. He has spent the last 10 years working exclusively on data migration and system integration projects. John is the author of Practical Data Migration.