NOV 11, 2009 4:15am ET

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Informatica Brings Business and IT Together for Your Data in Version 9

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In today’s long awaited launch of version 9, Informatica has advanced their data integration technology platform in a range of major data driven capabilities intended to ease the burden in working across business and IT to make data more readily available through data services for immediately processing data in real time across the enterprise. Informatica has also fully integrated their data quality technology into the platform for use across business and IT along with being part of their new SOA-based data services for virtualizing access to data. In todays virtual keynote Sohaib Abassi, the CEO of Informatica and executives in a virtual conference format that provided a new format and gave his personal perspective on the significance of this new releaseconsidering the relevance to issues in business and IT today. Most importantly, the need to evolve to a data or information-driven enterprise requires a focus and Informatica has advanced their efforts with support for business and IT collaboration, pervasive data quality and SOA-based data services that I will discuss now.

Probably the most difficult task that Informatica has addressed is having a common platform for where business and data analysts can have the capabilities to engage their data requirements and review while operating in conjunction with IT and their data "managevirment" responsibilities. Informatica has come out with the capability for analysts to define and review their data to ensure it is of the highest quality but also ensure they are getting what they need to get their job done. Without this, our research has found that they will continue to use their own silos of local databases or worse even use spreadsheets where they copy and paste their data to meet their own local efforts introducing potential data quality issues like varied definitions, wrong aggregations and calculation errors. This issue of errors in spreadsheets was found recently in our benchmark research on data governance and in research on 21st century spreadsheets. In the demonstration by Informatica, data integration product line EVP & GM Girish Pancha the simplicity of using Web-based bookmarks into the Informatica platform and data provides a method to share points of discussion and issues where you can easily instant message or email to quickly review and resolve issues. All of these shared capabilities on a common platform now requires a collective decision across business and IT to work together and use technology and will require some nudging.
 
The lack of timely data has been a large issue in organizations as the sources and places of data continues to grow and puts pressure on IT to improve their processes and technology. It is not possible today to expect that organizations will put everything in one or even more data warehouses in the right time frame or format. Just as we saw application to application integration in past years, now the need to have data services across systems in the enterprise is essential. To accomplish this Informatica has introduced advancements in providing SOA-based data services across their PowerCenter platform, building on their preview version’s and in many circles is discussed as data virtualization. The need to define and access methods to data as a service is now possible and takes data integration to a new level. Informatica data integration product line SVP & GM James Markarian discussed their advancements from examining and defining data services that are available and discover the underlying data object models along with investigating the data quality services being invoked along with seeing the data. All of this capability is available to those that are allowed and can speed up delivery of data to individuals directly across business users and analysts along with connecting data to other systems and even out to customers and business partners. Informatica demonstrated the updating of data services that can be directly streamed into reports and dashboards along with putting it into a format for business and data analysts for further analytics. To accomplish the increased demands on data does require improvement and the streamlining of data across the enterprise with Informatica 9 is an important step forward.

The need for improving data quality is quite clear and Informatica data quality product line SVP & GM Ivan Chong presented the improvements in version 9 that dramatically simplify the management review and practical changes to data for proper alignment to data governance and specific data quality processes. Informatica has advanced data quality through providing simple and improved dashboards to provide easier examination of data where issues are percolating and should be addressed. The new version provides an easier method to examine and make changes to data where classification and monitoring can be updated. The new version of the product provides methods for business and IT to work together along with wizards to help ensure improvement is made to the data. This provides the capability to dynamically build data quality rules that can be managed centrally and deployed simply. I have no doubt that data quality processes must be improved and technology introduced to automate and streamline efforts. Informatica now will need to reintroduce what data quality should be and re-energize efforts in business as much in IT to get organizations to understand the value in working across business and IT and put some much needed technology behind current or planned data governance processes.

This new release has been actively been used by Informatica customer and partner community in early release prior to this announcement to ensure it can help organizations achieve what Informatica has outlined. Informatica has also been advancing the use of their technology for use across outsourcing providers and into the private and public cloud computing services where applications are rented and used. Informatica has been over the last several years and in the last major release eased the point of integration of data across the Internet and in simple and complex cloud computing configurations. It is clear that Informatica 9 will simplify these efforts tremendously but CEO, Sohaib Abassi has hinted at a new announcement coming shortly on their business and technology efforts in this area. I have previously commented that Informatica must invest further to help build the interconnects to more applications in the cloud that operate across sales, marketing, customer, human resources, supply chain, finance today and are challenging both business and IT.

Informatica will also need to make it easier for those that have specific projects for customer, product, employee, finance data in line of business areas where they need help on their data needs and less across the entire enterprise. Informatica is expanding their efforts into the integration and usage of events through their acquisition of AgentLogic (See: “Informatica Acquires Agent Logic and Enters Operational Intelligence Market“) where enablement of what I call Operational Intelligence using Complex Event Processing is rapidly becoming a key priority in organizations according to our benchmark research.

This new version places pressure on the larger IBM and Oracle with their data management technology efforts in data integration and data quality to bring a tighter integrated suite of capabilities. IBM is much further along than Oracle and outlined their advancements into supporting MDM across business areas and unstructured content. Of course, other providers like Microsoft do not appear to be stepping up to the direct engagement into enterprises compared to their channel efforts and SAP efforts with Business Objects are more BI and solution-centric than taking on the enterprise data management needs of business. I do expect that the data services and virtualization of data across the enterprise along with advancements in use of events by Informatica will place further pressure on Tibco who has been investing further into analytics through their acquisition of Spotfire and Insightful than deepening their support of integrating data across the enterprise. Many other smaller providers in data integration continue to challenge Informatica on price of their enterprise software or specific areas of focus. This is all part of the increasing focus for investing into this category but also not just a product but a vendor to establish a longer term relationship with as Teradata has done in the data warehousing database and solution market.

The advancement of Informatica 9 is a big deal for the industry and organizations who want to step up their efforts in utilizing data across the enterprise. This new version is not your traditional view of data integration let alone data quality, which will require more strategic review of your current data and information management processes and technology investments. Without it you are not going to be able to start to change the way your organization operates let alone reduce the cost, time and risk of existing efforts. Informatica continues to expand its footprint of technology into this new breed of information middleware technology that can be used across business and IT through their dedicated focus which is clear has provided them a competitive advantage in the market.

Mark Smith also blogs at ventanaresearch.com/blog.

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