Real-time analytics capabilities are all the rage in the Big Data world. Analytic database vendors love to bring up the “real-time capability” of their products. Before you get too excited, know that most of the time they should be adding “sort of” to that line. The fact is that just because you have fast query response times, that doesn’t mean you have real-time.

In order to wear that badge, the data being analyzed itself must be complete and up-to-date. But how on earth are you supposed to do that when you have data from multiple heterogeneous databases, each with its own set of data integration challenges?

Enter Attunity Replicate, a product from a Massachusetts firm that applies change data capture to this thorny Big Data problem. Attunity Replicate automates data transfer into and out of Hadoop and the enterprise data lake from multiple data sources. Attunity Replicate uses change data capture (CDC) in order to make sure changed data is applied after initial replication. This is how that all-important up-to-date data requirement is met and true real-time status is achieved.

What this means for businesses is that their analysts will have the most timely data available at any given moment. It also brings improvements to the timelines of dashboards and other businesses intelligence applications used to monitor and analyze operation environments.

The previously mentioned CDC that makes this possible differs from the traditional ETL. ETL (extract, transform and load) is a method of data integration that is batch-oriented as opposed to real-time. CDC meanwhile, detects changes in source database systems and updates the target analytic databases solely with those changes.

One of the key things to keep in mind about Attunity’s software is that it applies data replication techniques to assist with the initial loading when dealing with large volumes of data to target analytic databases. Its CDC capabilities seamlessly compliment initial data loading. This means continuous real-time data integration, all deployed and managed by way of point-and-click GUIs. Thankfully you’ll be spared the headache of hand coding.

Attunity Replicate is not without a few limitations. Although it comes with no specific hardware requirements, it does have some software requirements for the host and target. In order to use Attunity Replicate you will need to have installed .NET Framework 4, along with a supported browser.

Right now the competitors to Attunity are primarily Oracle GoldenGate and IBM InfoSphere. These giants don’t have the database agnosticism that Attunity has, but you can bet they have a wider breadth of data integration and data management capabilities. Informatica also has a dog in this race, called PowerExchange, but the company’s data integration portfolio is heavily focused on ETL. That ETL eats up the lion’s share of Informatica’s R&D budget.

zData inc is among the service providers choosing to side with Attunity in that scrum. Those partnerships tend to be pretty extensive in terms of the work being done. zData for example uses Attunity for data migration, CDC to analytics systems (i.e. Greenplum), and moving data to the cloud via Attunity Cloudbeam. Cloudbeam is a nifty little solution in Attunity’s bag of tricks for automating and accelerating data loading 10 to 12 times over standard copy. Check out our next article if you’re curious about how that works.

In final analysis, Attunity offers up a great list of strengths. It is affordable, with very quick time to value. It is high performing, thanks to an in-memory streaming that eliminates bottlenecks. It features a simple, drag & drop user interface. It can be hosted on the same rack as Greenplum, letting you take advantage of the 10 GB interconnect. It is data source and data target agnostic. And of course, it has the kind of independence as a company that its competitors don’t have.

This kind of objectivity allows the company to partner closely with most of the major database vendors. Attunity has developed optimized replication and CDC technology for Greenplum (as previously mentioned), IBM Netezza, Teradata, HP Vertica, Hayes Technology Group, AWS Redshift, and Actian Vectorwise, to name a few.

Attunity is an effective weapon in the Big Data arsenal for combating the challenges of data integration and meeting the demands of true real-time.