Qlik Steps Up Data Integration Efforts Through ‘Connector Factory’ Initiative
The Connector Factory will accelerate the big data company’s development of links to more data sources, including SaaS applications and database systems, and assist customers and partners with custom data connector development.
Looking to broaden the range of software-as-a-service applications, legacy software and data sources that link to its data integration and analytics offerings, Qlik today unveiled Connector Factory, an initiative to accelerate the company’s development of data connectors.
While the core goal of Connector Factory is to boost the number of data connectors offered by Qlik, the company will also use it when working with customers and channel partners who need connectors to commercial software Qlik has yet to support or custom connectors to legacy and proprietary systems.
Qlik, headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., today offers more than 250 connectors to its Qlik Cloud Data Integration platform, which supports the company’s other products including the popular Qlik Sense data analytics tool.
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But in an interview with CRN Dan Potter, Qlik product marketing vice president, said there are more than 400 commercial database products and thousands of packaged, SaaS and legacy applications with data that businesses and organizations want to pull into Qlik for analytical tasks.
“The number one challenge for organizations that are doing data engineering and analytics is, ‘How do I get the relevant business data that I need from these disparate systems?’ Potter said.
“We need connectivity to a wide variety of different data sources. These are databases. These are applications, SaaS applications. And there are all the different targets to which people will move the data for analysis like data warehouses and data lakes and other databases and streaming infrastructure.”
A more immediate goal is to use Connector Factory to develop 100 new connectors for Qlik Cloud Data Integration by the end of 2023. Over the next two quarters that will include new connectors for 30 popular enterprise applications include NetSuite, Workday, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, Salesforce, Epic, Cerner, OSIsoft, ADP and HubSpot, according to the company.
Connector Factory includes a dedicated R&D team, a development framework, and a set of connector development resources and services that leverage standard APIs.
“We‘ve got an interesting technology that enables us to provide a lightweight way through the APIs to be able to rapidly pull data from disparate systems to build a structure to that API-driven data,” Potter said. The technology automates the process of building schemas for data flowing through REST APIs.
The Connector Factory also has an organizational aspect in that it brings together resources from – and creates common development processes for – the different teams across Qlik that developed connectors for the company’s data analytics, data integration and application automation products. “It‘s just getting smarter about how we handle API access,” Potter said.
By quickly developing packaged connectors, the Connector Factory will help reduce the amount of time and resources that enterprise IT, analytics and data engineering teams spend on data complexity and building one-off integrations, according to the company.
Another goal is to keep connectors updated amidst ever-changing application and database APIs. “They add new functionality, they may add a new API for certain things like real time streaming. There‘s just a lot to keep up with,” Potter said.
The Connector Factory will also help Qlik respond faster and more consistently to customer and partner requests for custom connectors for legacy applications and data sources, according to Potter. “We‘ve built a process that we can take these customer one-off requests and then rapidly generate a connector for them.”
Qlik has been introducing the Connector Factory to partners during three sales kickoff events in recent weeks, Potter said, noting that partners are Qlik’s face to customer deployments and they frequently wrestle with data integration challenges.
“With the Connector Factory [partners] now know that they can come back to us and say, ‘Here‘s my customer, here’s what they want to do. I need connectors to this.’ Now they‘ve got a process and a way that they can do that in a much more structured way and much faster turnaround,” Potter said.
“Connectivity is table stakes. It‘s foundational. It’s the beginning of a process and if you can‘t connect to the dataset, you can’t add value.”
Qlik isn’t charging customers for custom connector development: The connectors allow data to flow through its data integration and data analysis systems and Qlik’s fees are based on those data flows. “We charge them based on the amount of data that they process on the integration side or the amount of data that they analyze with Qlik analytics. So it‘s in our best interest to provide as much connectivity as possible,” Potter said.
Connectors developed for commercially available applications and databases will be available to all partners, Potter added.
The Connector Factory plays into Qlik’s broader data connectivity and integration efforts. In January Qlik announced a deal to acquire Talend, a San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of software for data and application integration, data governance and data ETL (extract, transform and load). The Talend acquisition, expected to close by midyear, also brings to Qlik the managed data pipeline technology Talend acquired when it bought Stitch in 2018.
Qlik’s own data integration offerings are based, in part, on real-time data replication technology from its 2019 acquisition of Attunity and application integration technology from its 2020 acquisition of Blendor.io.