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May 3, 2002

Criteria for Selection: ETL Technology, Part 2


Lou Agosta

Giga Position
Important evaluation criteria to consider when purchasing extraction, transformation and loading (ETL)
products include the following:

•= Usability
•= Transformations
•= Metadata integration
•= Performance (proven scalability)
•= Interoperability with other tools (especially data quality)
•= Diversity of execution platforms
•= Diversity of data sources accessed
•= Price
•= Vendor service and support

In spite of a convergence of functionality, vendor implementations of these features continue to be diverse


and variable, and a careful analysis of requirements can provide the basis for a decision about which product
to acquire. This Planning Assumption discusses these evaluation criteria and provides guidance for selection
of an ETL product, specifically products from Oracle, Data Junction and Computer Associates (CA).

Proof/Notes
This research is based on conversations with and written survey responses from vendors and users of ETL
tools (developers and managers) conducted during the fourth quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002.
(All the quotations are direct end-user comments, although proper names have been edited out to render the
statements anonymous.) The criteria of interoperability, diversity of execution platforms, diversity of data
sources, and pricing are summarized in the table, Four Criteria for ETL Tools: OWB, Data Junction and CA,
at the end of this Planning Assumption.

Usability
Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB) gives the user a graphical interface, allowing users to model the ETL
process by dragging and dropping objects on a mapping canvas. After connecting the objects, OWB will
generate a PL/SQL package from this logical drawing, which will provide the actual data movement. OWB
gives the user a wizard-driven design environment for creating the dimensional warehouse schema. Wizards
guide the user through the creation of dimensions with multiple levels and hierarchies, the creation of keys on
these levels and the linking of these dimensions to the fact tables. OWB provides wizards for all database
objects supported in OWB.

Data Junction’s Map Designer delivers an intuitive GUI for visually and directly mapping source data to
target structures while allowing the user to manipulate the data. One Data Junction user stated, “We evaluated

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© 2002 Giga Information Group, Inc.
All rights reserved. Reproduction or redistribution in any form without the prior permission of Giga Information Group is expressly prohibited. This information
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Criteria for Selection: ETL Technology, Part 2 ♦ Lou Agosta

many tools and found Data Junction to be by far the easiest to use and the most comprehensive support of file
formats.” The user evaluated the product’s strengths as twofold: the breadth of the data sources and targets it
supports and its usability. Another Data Junction client reported that its developers were able to complete
average conversions with less than two hours of training. “Since our source data changes on a daily basis, the
ease of changing a current conversion relates to very quick turnaround,” the client said.

In CA’s Advantage Data Transformer (ADT) and Advantage Data Transformer Enterprise Metadata Edition
(ADT EME), definition of the data transformation applications is done in the graphical mapper interface.
From a listing of available source and target metadata definitions, the developer drags the desired source
tables, target tables, lookup tables and reusable transformations onto a development “desktop” where ETL
mappings are done using drag and drop. One user of an earlier version of ADT EME praised CA’s Advantage
Data Transformer EME 1.9 ETL tool for its GUI interface that promotes rapid development of source to
target mappings. “The ETL tool is fully integrated with the data repository and updated immediately (i.e., no
multiple steps required to update the repository). The tool automatically generates the ETL application at the
press of a button. Functionality includes a ‘sweet spot’ utility that analyzes source data and recommends
values for commit point and buffer size performance parameters,” the user stated. The user’s complaints,
however, encompassed error handling and messaging that were sometimes tedious. “Tool installation and
configuration is not an ‘out of the box’ installation and was customized for our environment. Release 1.9 of
the tool lacks version control for maps or scripts,” the user said. CA notes in reply that version and status
control features and streamlined installation procedures are now included in the recently launched version
2.0, a full-function scheduler is included with the ADT and ADT EME base products, both support use of
external schedulers as the means to schedule ETL execution, and, finally, a new graphical Workflow
Manager in 2.0 provides for dependency and decision-tree based scheduling of ETL in conjunction with
external processes.

Transformations
OWB exposes database functions to the ETL designer, including standard scalar SQL functions from the
underlying 8i/9i database, which is (in effect) the transformation engine. In addition, some 40 OWB functions
and procedures are available to perform database functions useful to the transformation process, such as
disabling constraints, truncating tables or performing look-ups and many more. The user accesses all
transformations that have been built in OWB through the Oracle Library. It also contains predefined
functions and procedures that can be used either as transformations or in mapping triggers to perform
common warehouse functions. It has been organized for quick access by transformation type. Online
descriptions for each transformation guide the user to the appropriate transformation. Within the
transformation property sheet, the PL/SQL code that implements the transformation logic is displayed. The
designer can modify this code by launching the Code Editor. OWB includes a Global Shared Library, which
can be used to store reusable transformations. Tight integration with the database allows the use of Oracle8/9i
as a transformation engine, eliminating the need for an additional transformation server.

The Data Junction Basic Integration Language (cross-platform transformation language) includes more than
150 functions that may be used to develop any transformation. A GUI tool enables extension of the 150-plus
internal functions with user-defined functions, as well as embedding external code objects packaged as COM
or Java, or conventional libraries. One Data Junction client commented, “Data Junction helps us build
predictable and repeatable data transformation processes, relieving our development organization from the
tedious task of data transformation programming.” The client also complimented Data Junction’s ability to
perform data audits that help the company work with its clients to identify areas where data collection
procedures could be improved.

In CA’s ADT EME all transformation definitions are stored in the central enterprise metadata repository. In
ADT, all transformations are stored as metadata in the tool’s internal database (Idb). These reusable
transformations can be added to and used in any number of ETL applications. The products ship with an
extensive library of predefined reusable transformations. Data extraction, transformation and load
applications are defined using the graphical mapper interface. Some of the wizards in the interface generate

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SQL statements based on user input. Once the applications are designed graphically, a script is generated that
is compiled and queued for execution (on-demand, scheduled or based on system event). The scripts are in a
proprietary scripting language that has been used and enhanced since 1994. It has a syntax much like Visual
Basic, with support for C data types.

Metadata
OWB adheres to Object Management Group (OMG)-Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM) and Oracle is
one of the main participants and drivers of this OMG (www.omg.org/technology/cwm/index.htm) standard.
However, “adhere” is different from “implement,” and the solution is still largely proprietary. The metadata
reconciliation is the process of adjusting the definitions in the OWB repository with the corresponding source
and target objects in the repository. OWB provides extensive impact analysis, reconciliation procedures,
version control and reporting on these processes. For example, the current release of OWB supports
versioning at the project level through the metadata repository. This is called archive and restore, and it
allows the user to allocate a label (archive) for each version. OWB employs a locking mechanism to allow
users to work on the same project simultaneously. Locking occurs on the object level (for example, a table, a
dimension or a mapping) to allow for maximum flexibility. One user will receive a read/write lock; the other
will then have a read-only copy of the object. This read-only copy is presented in a read-consistent view,
which means that object is not changed until a commit occurs in the session with read/write. OWB provides a
synchronize option to allow users to refresh their copy periodically. These features are impressive, but
relatively new, and Giga has not been able to separately verify that they function as designed. OWB can
extract metadata from Oracle Designer version 6.0, CA ERwin and Sybase PowerDesigner.

The Data Junction metadata repository is an open Extensible Markup Language (XML) database for storing
all integration metadata. The XML database interfaces with third-party designers, UIs, programs and tools
such as ERwin, Cognos, Brio, MicroStrategy, Crystal Business Objects and others. Metadata exchange is
supported with XMI, XIF and CWMI. The extensibility of the local XML repository allows the user to define
technical and business metadata. Data Junction’s Process Designer is able to import and execute Microsoft
DTS packages. The Data Junction designer using the Design Studio saves its design output as XML that is
stored in the open XML metadata repository. The XML repository allows sharing of all rules (metadata)
generated by the designers with other tools such as modeling, process management or other repository
managers. Data Junction claims to be able to extract metadata from thousands of data formats and
applications. More than 140 adaptors extract both metadata and content. All metadata that is exposed by the
adaptor for each application or file can be saved in a metadata definition file by Data Junction. Saving the
metadata as XML allows it to be exchanged with any product that can consume XML. Aside from supporting
XML metadata exchange standards such as XMI, XIF and CWMI, Data Junction can take metadata from a
source and transform it into the output required by the user — SQL structures, ASCII record structures and
the specific adaptors listed in data sources in the table.

For CA’s ADT EME, there is full integration with Advantage Repository for Distributed Systems (formerly
known as PLATINUM Repository Open Enterprise Edition, or PR/OEE). The ADT EME product is shipped
with an ODBC Metadata Scanner to import the metadata required to support the ETL development process.
ADT EME customers may also be interested in Advantage Repository’s SAP Scanner to support their SAP
R/3 environment or the COBOL Scanner to support the use of the included ADT EME Normalizer Utility to
normalize complex legacy files (including OCCURS and REDEFINES). If the developer needs to expand
usage of the Advantage Repository to provide for enterprise management of technical metadata, they simply
add on one or more available scanners. ADT EME’s integration with the Advantage Repository allows for the
managing of ETL metadata in the broader context of data flow throughout the enterprise. This provides for
impact analysis, metadata rationalization and path analysis. The metadata repository is extensible, allowing
for the creating (by customers or consultants) of custom metamodel objects and scanners for currently non-
supported data structures or applications.

Performance (Proven Scalability)

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OWB scripts are deployed to the Oracle database target platforms that may scale from data marts to
extremely large enterprise warehouses. Because the Oracle database is the transformation engine, OWB
scales according to the capabilities of the underlying database. OWB generates SQL, PL/SQL, ABAP (in
2.1.1.34) or SQL*Loader control files, depending on the source system and on the execution strategy chosen.
OWB does support parallel inserts, updates and deletes into the database. All objects can be configured for
the correct degree of parallelism, and OWB allows users to apply hints for further performance tuning. OWB
uses PL/SQL bulk processing for reads and writes. Bulk processing improves the performance of SQL
statements that affect multiple rows of data. Oracle can employ what might be described as database tricks
that leverage the underlying relational technology to improve performance without depending merely on
hardware horsepower.

The Data Junction Integration Engine can execute in parallel across multiple CPUs. Because of its compact
design, the Integration Engine can be installed and executed in proximity to the actual data, thereby avoiding
network bottlenecks. When deployed, the Integration Engine executes specifications stored in a portable
binary or XML file, negating the need to communicate with a repository housed in a SQL DBMS that may be
remotely located from the data. A file-partitioning utility available to the Integration Engine is used to
accelerate the processing of massive source files. This utility automatically partitions the files into sections,
processes the files in parallel across multiple CPUs and then appends the partitions together again for loading
into the target. Data Junction transformations are performed directly through the Integration Engine, typically
with a native connection to the source and target. There is no staging of data, and intermediate drivers are not
required for connectivity. All conversion metadata, including lookup tables, can be stored in cache memory
to minimize disk I/O. Data Junction states that the Integration Engine supports parallel processing across
multiple processors and has benchmarked linear performance gains per additional CPU in multi-processor
machine configurations.

CA reports that a dual, 600MHz, Windows machine can process roughly 38MB per minute loading in bulk
mode between two MS-SQL Server 7.0 databases — with no data transformation. Customers have reported
up to 2GB of data per hour processed and loaded between relational databases. This is for a single Data
Movement Server; increased total throughput can be obtained by using multiple Data Movement Servers,
increasing complexity and cost. The native interfaces are tuned to provide efficient extractions and loads.
This release includes support for source column expressions. This means that commands such as SQL
statements can be passed to the source(s) as a preprocessing step, with the processing done on the source
server. Bulk loading of the target databases is supported via DBMS bulk-load utilities and Data Transformer
Target Agent technology (such as the Target Agent that comes as a standard option to the Oracle Interface).
This release does not support either symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) or massively parallel processing
(MPP) parallelism. One CA ETL owner commented, “The performance can be extremely fast or slow
depending on the volume of transactions and the complexity, number of transformations and server capacity.
The ‘sweet spot’ utility can be used for tuning as record volumes increase. Also, the ETL engine can
multiplex to more than one server.” As of the first quarter of 2002, ADT/EME executes only on NT or
Windows platform, and high-end performance success stories are correspondingly limited.

Data Sources
See the table at the end of this Planning Assumption for details on Oracle, Data Junction and Computer
Associates. Oracle targets only Oracle databases (8i/9i) and does not support DB2, Informix, SQL Server,
etc. as target databases. OWB allows users to address this issue with workarounds and with OWB9i. Flat files
will be a new target, which makes it easier to move a target warehouse to a non-Oracle database.

Vendor Service and Support


In one example known to Giga, an early version of CA Advantage Data Transformer beat out Informatica
because neither tool had an out-of-the-box transformation needed to perform round robin aggregation, and the
CA consultants stopped arguing about the need to use a predefined transformation and coded the account-
winning solution as a reusable transform in the proprietary CA ADT scripting language. Another CA client

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reported, “The vendor provides good formal ETL training as well as on-site consulting services. The help
desk support ranges from excellent to poor depending on who is assigned to your issue.”

Data Junction has some very satisfied clients. One commented, “The vendor is very quick in getting back (to
us) with solutions to problems. Usually less than two hours and we have a solution.” It should be noted that
client references expressed a high regard for the level of support received from Data Junction.

Oracle has not provided separate OWB client references, in spite of repeated requests from Giga. Without
client references, it is just a hypothesis that the OWB 3i/9i software functions as designed, and the lack of
references does give pause.

Alternative View
The ETL market has been described as a mature market. Even if that is so, it is a mature market about to
experience two discontinuities. The first of those is the dawning appreciation at the high-volume end that a
hub and spoke (“data hub”) architecture is orders of magnitude more efficient and manageable than point-to-
point solutions as provided by individual ETL tools. In spite of a certain weakness in metadata support, the
EAI vendors (e.g., SeeBeyond, NEON, TIBCO, MQSeries) will seize the high ground and make real-time
data warehousing the new paradigm. Significant consulting services will be combined with powerful data hub
architecture to provide efficient and flexible many-to-many data integration solutions. At the medium- and
low-volume end of the market, it is the realization that Microsoft DTS will succeed in transforming the
market into a commodity one. This is especially true when combined with improved scalability, reliability
and availability of NT and the CWM successful proliferation of the CWM standard among allied tool vendors
in the design, development and operational processes markets. The net result will be a solution to the problem
of system interoperability with significantly reduced implementation time and measurably improved total
economic impact.

Findings
OWB is raising the bar and lowering the price for ETL as ETL functionality is driven into the relational
database and OWB ships for a modest price with Oracle’ suite of development tools. Of course, the price of
an Oracle database should properly to be added into the cost of OWB. Another limitation is that OWB targets
only Oracle databases and is therefore not a good choice for those whose decision support systems are
federated and consist of databases other than Oracle. It should also be noted that the transformation engine is
the Oracle database, and that is the main ETL software cost in any OWB initiative. Another limitation is that
OWB 3i does not connect to SAP, though that is being addressed in OWB 9i.

As of the second quarter of 2002, CA ADT and ADT EME only run on NT or Windows-based servers and
high performance is likely to be an issue at the high end. Parallel processing — whether of the SMP or MPP
variety — is not supported, though upcoming Unix versions will address this shortcoming. The tool generates
a proprietary Visual Basic-like script language similar to such code-generating options as Oracle Warehouse
Builder (which generates PL/SQL) and SAS WA (which generates SAS procedural code). This means the IT
function should be comfortable managing the source code promotion process rather than operating an engine
such as DataStage or PowerCenter).

Data Junction’s Integration Studio is a suite of designers, which include the Map Designer, Process Designer,
Extract Schema Designer, Document Schema Designer and the Adaptor Schema Designer. Data Junction
accesses a truly incredible variety of data sources, including what might be described as legacy client/server
systems (FoxPro, xBase, etc.) than can be imagined. A well-known data quality vendor uses them in-house as
part of its customer-facing service bureau-like operations for which a very high service-level agreement
(SLA) is required. Data Junction claims to have more than 40,000 customers worldwide, with more than
100,000 licenses shipped. It states that more than 2,100 licenses were purchased in 2001. This would make
Data Junction the market leader in terms of licenses — however, not in terms of revenue. Data Junction is
roughly a $10 million to $20 million company in terms of its revenue. This gives it about 2 percent of the

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overall ETL market of some $667 million total, a relatively modest number in comparison with Ascential,
Informatica or SAS ETL revenues. Client references expressed a high regard for the level of support received
from Data Junction.

OWB appears to be the least expensive tool. However, that is not necessarily so. The price of the Oracle
database needs to be added into the cost of the tool, since the database is the ETL “transformation engine.” In
general, the pricing model for ETL tools is such that an incremental license and cost is incurred for each
additional connector (adapter or access engine) data source and target. It should also be noted that any ETL
tool (SAS WA, Informatica, etc.) will require the purchase of server infrastructure to operate, and any ETL
tool may require a license for a relational database in which to store metadata.

Recommendations
OWB is a good choice for any end-to-end Oracle shop. Oracle Transparent Gateways are available for most
relational databases except DB2/AIX where an ODBC connection must be used. Other advice includes:

•= Don’t forget to add the price of another instance of the database (8i/9i), plus hardware, to the modest
($5,000) cost of OWB, since the database is the transformation engine.
•= OWB 3i is not a good choice for enterprises that need to load heterogeneous data warehouses —
OWB supports only Oracle 8i/9i databases and flat files (major constraint!) as data warehouse target.
•= No native connection is available for DB2/6000 data sources on the AIX platform and ODBC must
be used.
•= OWB 3i is not a good choice if a firm needs to capture SAP R/3 data, though OWB 9i does have a
SAP integrator. As indicated, Oracle is a good choice for end-to-end Oracle installations or ones that
wish to go there.

For those firms confronting a variety of heterogeneous data sources, especially legacy client/server data
types, Data Junction belongs on the short list. Giga knows a premier data quality vendor that uses Data
Junction in-house to manage the vast variety of client/server formats this data quality provider must confront
in its service bureau operations. The performance is acceptable, though not the main reason to get this
product. The service is outstanding, though reportedly expensive. For clients facing a rigorous SLA that
requires match-merging and handling a wide variety of heterogeneous data sources, Data Junction is a good
choice.

For clients with heterogeneous enterprise data, including data on the mainframe, CA’s ADT EME offers an
approach to metadata that can be leveraged to gain the advantages of reuse and centralized management.
Copious scanners are available — the CA metaphor for translators between tools. The CA Advantage
Repository for Distributed Systems supports both technical and business metadata as well as impact analysis.
Metadata and access to a wide variety of enterprise data sources are ADT EME strengths, whereas
performance will be constrained until the product moves beyond the Windows/NT platform in its next phase
of Release 2.0 to data center infrastructure.

References
Planning Assumptions
Criteria for Selection: ETL Technology, Part 1, Lou Agosta
Market Overview Update: ETL, Lou Agosta
Market Overview: ETL in Transition, Lou Agosta
Emerging Internet Data Integration Solutions, Mike Gilpin

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IdeaBytes
Ascential Validates Data Quality With Vality Acquisition, Lou Agosta
Oracle Warehouse Builder Offers Study in Constraints and Value, Lou Agosta
Sunopsis: Another Extract, Transform and Load Product With Enterprise Application Integration Aspirations,
Henry Peyret

Four Criteria for ETL Tools: OWB, Data Junction and CA


Execution
Vendor Interoperability Data Sources Pricing
Platforms
Oracle Data quality: Oracle RDBMS versions OWB executes on $5,000 per user
Oracle Pure 7.3.4 and higher, flat files all platforms that plus the cost of an
Integrate (character-delimited, fixed- run Oracle 8i/9i: Oracle 8i/9i
4
length, single-record and Solaris, HP, AIX, database
Design: Oracle multi-record), XML NT/W2K.
Designer version documents (URL, Advanced
6.0; CA ERwin; Queues, documents. etc.),
Sybase Generic Connectivity
PowerDesigner (ODBC)
Oracle Transparent
BI: Oracle Gateways (OTG): Microsoft
1
Discoverer SQL Server, Sybase,
Informix, DB2 on OS/390
(MVS), DRDA for DB2 on
OS/390 (MVS), DRDA for
2
DB2 on AS/400
A SAP Integrator will be
3
available in OWB 9i.
Data Design: XML, DB2, Oracle, Informix, Win 95/2000, NT, $3,000 to $20,000
Junction including DTDs Sybase Adaptive Server, Unix — AIX, includes collections
and XML Microsoft IIS Extended Log HP-UX, Solaris, of connectors;
schema, COBOL File Format, XML Linux HIPAA and
01s, C-structure, MQSeries, MSMQ, any JMS- advanced EDI
binary, ASCII compliant message queue, support require an
record structure SAP (IDOCs), any ODBC 2.x additional license
5
and others or 3.x compliant application, fee
Siebel, SAP, Oracle
Applications, J.D. Edwards,
Baan and others
Data Junction supports
connectors to a wide variety
of client/server data sources,
including most legacy
client/server systems. These
include such relatively
obscure sources as Btrieve,
C-ISAM, Clarion, Clipper,
Excel, eXcelon, Foxbase,
Foxbase+, FoxPro, Fujitsu
Cobol, GoldMine, Great
Plains, Lotus 1-2-3, Lotus
Notes, Platinum Accounting,
Quattro Pro Windows v5,
RealWorld Accounting, SAS,

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SBT Accounting (FoxPro)


SPSS, Visual dBASE 5.5,
Visual FoxPro (Source only),
Watcom SQL v5, XML
MQSeries, MSMQ, any JMS
compliant message queue

7
CA Design: Native/direct interfaces to NT/W2K Starting at $56,000
COOL:DBA, DB2/OS390, UDB, AS400, for ADT and
ERwin, Oracle Informix, Ingres, Oracle, $100,000 for ADT
Designer, Sybase, MS SQL Server, EME
Paradigm Plus and SAP/R3 (source only)
ODBC for Microsoft
DBMS databases and files (such as
scanners: Access, Excel), ODBC
DB2/OS390, CA’s EDBC technology,
IDMS, Informix, allowing for direct, relational
MS SQL Server, access to legacy databases
generic ODBC, such as CA-Datacom, IMS,
Oracle, and IDMS
6
PeopleSoft,
Sybase

Application
Development
Language:
ActiveX/COM,
ANSII C/C++,
COBOL
Copybook,
COBOL Program
Document, Java,
PC JCL,
PowerBuilder,
SAP/R3, SQL
Query, Visual
Basic, Visual
C/C++
Source: Giga Information Group

1. Oracle purchased Carleton in November 1999, and its Pure Integrate contains data standardization
technology. However, Pure Integrate is being desupported as a stand-alone tool. OWB 9i will include the
Name/Address operator of Pure Integrate, and full support of the product functionality should be available by
2003. Meanwhile, Oracle reports that technology from Harte-Hanks Inc.’s Trillium software division is being
integrated into OWB.
2. Conspicuous by its absence is DB2/6000 on the popular AIX platform. OTGs require an extra license fee.
Previously, Oracle Pure Extract (bundled with OWB at no extra charge) supported native access to OS/390
platforms: IMS, DB2, VSAM, Sequential files. However, Oracle Pure Extract is being desupported and is no
longer being sold. Oracle is reportedly looking into using Oracle transparent gateways to extract data from
mainframe sources.
3. The SAP integrator is not currently provided with OWB 3i; however, customers can use the 2.1.1.34 version
of OWB to create a staging area for the extraction from SAP. OWB 2.1.1.34 supports ABAP and PL/SQL code
generation. This staging area can then serve as a source for OWB 3i, which gives the customer all the
advantages of OWB 3i.
4. OWB is part of 9iDS, which also includes Oracle Jdeveloper, Oracle Discoverer (Plus) and the Oracle
Designer data modeling tool. This is $5,000 per user, including many connectors and adapters (OTGs are an

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extra license fee). OWB uses the Oracle database as its transformation engine. The OWB browser runs on the
Oracle Portal technology, which means the two products required are Oracle 9iAS and Oracle 8i/9i RDBMS.
The database price (not quoted here) should be included as part of the total economic impact.
5. The Map Designer and Adaptor Schema Designer can accept metadata provided from any modeling tool that
creates SQL DDL. However, no partners or defined metadata components are explicitly specified for defined
interoperability.
6. Streaming data, such as MQSeries, would be processed on a semibatch basis through the Advantage
Connector for MQSeries (formerly the Jasmine infrastructure MQSeries Interface).
7. Computer Associates states a version of ADT/EME will ship for HP, AIX and Sun shortly after the Windows
one.

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