Talend Uses Open Source and Community to Transform Data Integration
July 3, 2009 37 Comments
Talend, a California-based open source data integration vendor with a development center in China, first shipped product in late 2006, and two and a half years later has established a strong, growing business as more and more firms attempt to build a relatively complete stack of open source data management software. With a recent $12M round of financing, Talend continues to build out its commercial infrastructure, and can be expected to raise its profile and continue its growth in a conservative market that nonetheless is aggressively pursuing information management technologies. Open source, tight economics, prohibitively expensive licensing models based on data volume, and huge maintenance costs are transforming buyers’ thinking about these products and opening the door for Talend and others.
Talend claims 900,000 “core product” downloads have yielded 250,000 active (i.e. registered) users. And from there to over 500 paying customers in less than two years makes a good story – especially when Talend assert that a third comes from the Fortune 1000. An Eclipse-based product upgrade mechanism makes routine registration well worth it, and no doubt helps account for the relatively high download-to-registered-user ratio. As users move up to a full, priced relationship, they get enterprise capabilities such as multi-user support and load balancing, tech support, etc. The products offer graphical, business-oriented data modeling, data profiling, metadata discovery, connectivity to most widely-used systems and data sources – including SAS and SAP, cleansing capabilities, scheduling and more.
A surprise for me was Talend’s assertion that half of its go-live projects – and a big piece of its differentiation – are in operational data integration (ODI) used for application upgrades, data migration and replication; [added: the other 50% is considered BI by Talend.] Based on research from IDC, TDWI and others, Talend is convinced that ODI represents a great market opportunity, and there is good reason to believe they’re right. Its price advantage – no “data tax” based on volume, but rather a “number of active developers” pricing scheme – benefits greatly from this profile.
A paradox of ODI activities is that since they are less glamorous than BI-related projects, they are rarely staffed with visible, continuously employed specialists. Individual projects may be small and tactical, and often assigned to staff that don’t remain specialized in data migration, data quality, or other related disciplines. Skills and reusable methods and code are not as easy to find inside the organization. Enter open source, and a community model for collecting connectors and translation practices. Talend asserts that fully a third of its 400 connectors originated in the community – and are freely shared.
Partnerships are crucial in an integration-focused play, and Talend boasts a marquee list that includes open source stalwarts like Jaspersoft (who OEM the product), big brand partners such as Microsoft and Teradata, and system integrators such as Capgemini and Unisys.
Talend has formidable competitors – IBM and Oracle top the list. Fortunately, both have formidable prices too, and complex, massive offerings. Talend has been getting in under the radar a lot, and is likely to continue to until and unless the big firms start to rethink pricing. Nothing new here – the same model is being seen across the software industry as open source gathers credibility and momentum. The timing is perfect: spending constraints are tough, software asset management efforts are showing how much software is unused, and old-style licensing models are forcing companies to pay massive amounts of “maintenance” money for rarely used, rarely updated software. Talend is one of the leaders of the new wave, but they are not alone, and they will continue to benefit from the industry transformation they are helping to drive.
[Quick add: I just came across a nice piece published by James Governor in January, which includes some added nuances about the use of the community for localization, about the investors helping to fund Talend, and some European distribution and potential market prospects. Recommended reading.]