Novell integrates databases

The keys to Novell Inc.’s new SQL Integrator are both its ease of use, and the role it plays in lowering the skill set necessary to integrate data from multiple databases, according to industry analysts.

SQL Integrator is a data integration application that provides a multiple-tier, multiple-database enterprise environment for connecting ODBC and Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) applications between client systems and database servers. According to Novell, the product builds on functionality present in NetWare and Novell Directory Services (NDS) to transparently integrate and access data.

Ross Chevalier, director of technology at Markham, Ont.-based Novell Canada, explained that SQL Integrator offers the ability to read, write and integrate data from a variety of databases.

“The developer writes to SQL Integrator which is running on native NetWare. The developer can leverage the power of the directory for authentication and then once that service is set up, the developer or customer has the ability to take information from multiple database engines concurrently and create highly productive applications or real-time queries or reports.”

SQL Integrator provides a common database join engine for a number of third-party database products, including those from Oracle, Sybase, Informix, Microsoft and IBM, running on platforms such as Windows NT, Unix, Digital VAX and IBM VMS. By offering enhanced access to information, SQL Integrator also allows for rapid application development, said Martin Marshall, director of Internet/Server Application Development Service at Zona Research Inc. in Redwood City, Calif.

“Everyone with an ODBC pipe thinks that they can do database integration, (and) that may be so, but the skill set required to do so and the time frame required to do so can be extensive,” he said.

“Having to learn Oracle’s PL/SQL, for example,…can be an extensive skill set, so what this does is gives people who are not highly versant in those technologies an easy package for just saying ‘there’s the table that I want, there’s the field that I want. Let me drag it into my application and now it’s done.'”

Chevalier agreed, citing time to deliver as the product’s biggest advantage. “Not only (for) developers of stand-alone applications, but real-time developers, the people in the large enterprise accounts who have to get information on an ad hoc basis. SQL Integrator, because it uses a single interface, reduces the time to develop the skill to go get that information.”

According to Mario Apicella, an industry analyst and product reviewer at the American magazine InfoWorld, another advantage is that SQL Integrator’s Data Dictionary Manager brings together all of the databases into a single unified dictionary — the benefit being that it permits the accessing and joining of data sources in a single database query, a feature that narrowly focused, conventional database drivers do not provide.

Another feature, he noted, that “database administrators will appreciate is the capability to make the database location transparent to the application, because it gives administrators the freedom to optimize data distribution across the network. Also, the Dictionary Manager includes the capability to create test tables and an interactive SQL query processor that developers can use to test their applications.”

According to Novell’s Chevalier, SQL Integrator is targeted towards “any customer who has multiple database structures potentially, but not requiring it to be on multiple execution platforms and who need to easily, effectively and quickly do database joins.”

But Marshall said considering some of the other things the product is integrating, including Java, JavaBeans, Novell Script, ODBC, JDBC and Perl Script, most likely the people that are going to be using this product are coming out of the Novell user and application development base. “(And that) means they probably know Novell Script, but they may not be database experts. This means they don’t have to be,” he explained.

As far as implementation goes, Chevalier said, “I’m going to recommend that the implementer has some understanding of SQL technologies and know where the databases are, have access to the databases in advance and also have some level of authority. The person would have to have some networking skill to do the installation.”

Novell SQL Integrator ( is priced at US$6,495 for five concurrent users and two databases.

Novell Canada in Markham, Ont. is at (905) 940-2670.

–with files from IDG News Service