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Talend Update: Open Source Data Integration

Talend is a French outfit looking to shake up the expensive, largely proprietary world of data integration and analysis with a coherent suite of tools and with a MySQL-like dual licensing strategy. I caught up with VP of Marketing Yves de Montcheuil earlier this week. The really big question is- are enterprises ready for open source data management tools, which spurred an interesting conversation over at Andreas Bitterer’s Gartner blog after Yves accused the analyst leviathan of being overly conservative.

But I don’t need to rehash those arguments. What struck me clearly is that Talend has a solid momentum story, and in this economy pretty much every software license should be reassessed in light of open source alternatives.

  • Talend claims 3.3m downloads. So what?
  • More interestingly it claims 200k active users, as measured by activities on forums, for example, and downloads of user documentation. Meh.
  • The most interesting number – is that Talend has 400 paying customers. That’s a pretty good number for any enterprise start up.

35% of paying customers are Fortune 500 organisations including eBay, Yahoo and Virgin Mobile. Yes there is clearly a bias to web companies in that number, but eBay for example, is a massive Oracle shop –its hardly OSS uber alles.

Another really interesting stat, one that surprised floored me –  55% of its implementations are in operational data stores, rather than ETL.  Its one thing to use OSS to clean your data up, its quite another to rely on it in production. Or is it? One thing I know for certain is that Talend and Bitterer would both agree different categories in data integration have been different for too long.

Another guy that knows a thing or two about data integration and building a company is Bernard Liautaud. Who he? Oh just the guy that founded Business Objects- which SAP acquired in 2007 for $6.8bn, somewhere near the top of the market. Nice exit! Bernard is now managing partner at a little VC company called Balderton, which is funding Talend. Balderton funded Bebo, Betfair and Setanta, so it has a pretty solid record of supporting early stage European businesses.

So what comes next?

Yves says growth- the firm now has sites across Europe [the briefing was ostensibly about the new UK office]. Talend expects revenues to double or triple this year, but of course that’s off a fairly small base.

Like MySQL Talend has an enterprise version of its tools which includes extra goodies not available to the community edition, such as tools for monitoring jobs, or a new data profiling tool.

Why the UK now? Mostly because post Blair the UK is waking up to open source economics, finally catching up with France and Germany in terms of government imprimatur.

“Things have changed, says Monteuil, “Large corporations were “looking down at open source with a sympathetic eye “but its not ready for us”. But now CIOs see it as a full component.” What he said…

Before wrapping up, there was one other data point I found very interesting. The company’s localisation and multi-language strategy is based on crowd sourcing through Talend Babili. Open source beats the hell out of proprietary on multi-language support – see OpenOffice, for example, which supports languages that Microsoft Office doesn’t, such as Basque. So the community may not be contributing code, but its creating really useful documentation.

Another area the community has helped is in providing connectors (Talend now has more than 400). But when customers asked for SAP integration Talend stepped up to the work. Sensible in Europe, good use of capital.

All in all Talend seems in pretty good shape to go after organisations looking to cut costs in the recession. Open Studio is a solid piece of work.

disclosure: Talend is not a customer. Neither currently is SAP.

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