In July of 2004, Informatica announced a change in company leadership and named Sohaib Abbasi, 20-year Oracle veteran and a member of its executive committee, as Informatica's new president and CEO. Following a record quarter in which Informatica announced the highest revenues in its history, DM Review interviewed Abbasi to gain his perspective on the company and on the information technology industry.

Through the course of his career, Abbasi has been involved with infrastructure software for application development, business intelligence and enterprise portals, as well as application software for e-learning and the pharmaceutical industry. In 1982, he joined Oracle - a 30-person startup at that time. After successfully starting the company's Midwest field operations, he chose to join the development organization as one of only two programmers working on technologies outside of the database because he had learned through conversations with hundreds of customers that what they wanted most was to achieve productivity through business process automation. While he agrees that productivity through automation has been the one value proposition in the IT industry for the last 30 years, Abbasi predicts a sea change relating to IT's future value proposition.

Control Through Integration

"As enterprises outsource more business processes to service providers, our industry will change dramatically as the emphasis on productivity enhancements through automation diminishes," says Abbasi. "As companies choose to focus more on their core business competencies, outsourcing is increasingly an alternative to staffing and automating non-core processes internally." He continues to explain that there are three types of outsourcing. The first is business processing outsourcing (BPO) where organizations can outsource payroll, HR benefits administration, the procurement function or accounts payable processing, for example. The second type of outsourcing is the new breed of software-as-a-service companies that make software available as a subscription service. By hosting applications and remotely collecting all of the data, the cost of ownership is greatly reduced, as is the overhead of administration. In the third type of outsourcing, organizations such as EDS and IBM assume control of a company's IT organization and promise to deliver the same results or better for less.

The impact of these types of outsourcing is the driver for the change that Abbasi predicts. "The primary focus of IT will no longer be to enhance productivity through automation because many of the business functions and processes will be outsourced instead. What is the IT value proposition for a business function or process that has been outsourced? The value proposition must be to gain greater control through integration," explains Abbasi. When something is outsourced, the requirement changes from one of automation to one of control. "For example," says Abbasi, "if you've outsourced HR to Hewitt, do you have control over, and visibility into, the data they collect? Regulatory requirements and effective fact-based management require having access to all of the data - whether it is being collected in house or is being collected by service providers on behalf of the customer," he notes.

Informatica's Value

How does this need for control and visibility impact Informatica? "Outsourcing to service providers leads to even greater data fragmentation - across IT systems that span enterprise boundaries. A company's payroll data might be in a database at ADP, its benefits data in a system at Fidelity, and its sales-incentive compensation data in an in-house CRM application. In order to gain a holistic view of total compensation, for example, cross-enterprise data integration is critical," remarks Abbasi. "Outsourcing is not a passing fad, and it is rapidly disaggregating IT systems and fragmenting data. With increased outsourcing, the need for control and integration is much greater. Enabling the virtual enterprise is a very promising strategic opportunity for Informatica." To ensure that Informatica is ready to meet the diverse data integration needs of the future, Abbasi has enhanced the company's singular focus on enterprise data integration to include cross-enterprise data integration.

Meeting Broad Data Integration Needs

The plan Abbasi implemented to grow Informatica from data warehousing to broader data integration - and to grow from departmental projects to enterprise and even cross-enterprise initiatives - is a noteworthy strategy. Providing the technology necessary for the varied data integration needs of companies is what Informatica is all about. "Data integration needs are only going to grow as organizations take a more holistic view of all the projects that require data integration - not just data warehousing, but data migration, data consolidation, master data management, data synchronization and business activity monitoring," states Abbasi. "We provide greater value to our customers by addressing a much broader range of their data integration needs than any other vendor, and we have no other agenda than to ensure that our customers are successfully integrating data in whatever ways their business demands."

"Our objective is to automate the entire data integration life cycle," explains Abbasi. "The first step is to access all data - data residing in persistent data sources, data that is delivered as messages or exposed as Web services. The second step is to discover all of the relevant data, and meta data plays a very big role in that. The third step is to transform the data, and the last step is to deliver the data. Clearly, organizations need an integrated framework to manage all these steps, and they need the ability to audit the process. Auditability is becoming much more important in order to comply with all of today's regulatory requirements. We deliver technology that automates all of the different steps within the data integration life cycle."

In support of Informatica's broader data integration focus, key developments recently announced include the company's new PowerCenter Advanced Edition, a unified platform that addresses the full data integration lifecycle. Additionally, the company also announced support for unstructured data, making Informatica the first unified platform for processing unstructured, semi-structured and structured data. Recent data integration benchmark tests of Informatica's 64-bit PowerCenter data integration platform running on Solaris 10, a Sun Fire E256K server and Sun StorEdge 3510 arrays delivered throughput of one terabyte faster than any previously published data integration performance result.

Independent and Open

"Today Informatica is the undisputed leading independent vendor of data integration," says Abbasi. "Customers place a premium on independence when it comes to data integration. Most organizations rely on more than one database supplier. There is a wealth of information stored in mainframe systems and modern databases such as Oracle, DB2, Microsoft, Sybase and Teradata. And, of course, customers also utilize hardware from multiple vendors. Our customers have told us repeatedly that they would like to be assured of an unbiased view so that they can leverage all of the information they have. Equally important, they want to be in a position where they can gracefully leverage all new innovations, regardless of where they originate. Our independence positions us to be the most trusted source for data integration."

It All Comes Together for Customers

According to Abbasi, many organizations have come to the realization that approximately 40 percent of their IT budget is earmarked for integration. "Given this growing recognition, many organizations are looking for a more cost-effective way to manage integration. Data integration is much too strategic to be done as it has been historically - at the departmental level. Increasingly, customers are relying on Informatica to automate all of their data integration projects across the entire enterprise. Alongside leading industry analysts, we are promoting the concept of the integration competency center as the best way to realize economies of scale through standardization and centralization. At the same time, companies benefit from best practices, common methodology and common skills. A survey we recently conducted at our annual user conference indicated that fifty-two percent of our customers already have or will soon implement an integration competency center," says Abbasi.

Today, more than 2,250 customers rely on Informatica for data integration technology, including 83 percent of the Fortune 100.

... And for Informatica

The company's most recent financial statements signal that the strategy Abbasi has set in motion for Informatica - to be singularly focused on data integration - is delivering record results. Revenues for the second quarter of 2005 were $64.2 million, up 21 percent from the second quarter of 2004. License revenues were up 21 percent for the same period. Abbasi comments, "Twenty-one percent year-over-year growth in both license and total revenues clearly validates our growth strategy to establish Informatica as the dominant leader in the enterprise data integration market. Record revenues and record profits demonstrate the exceptional execution discipline of the Informatica team," he proudly states. "I am amazed by what the Informatica team delivers on a daily basis - the innovations that our product development organization continues to deliver, the focus of our services organization to ensure customer satisfaction, the deliverables of the marketing organization and the dedication of our sales organization. Every day I see what makes this company great - the dedicated and brilliant individuals of Informatica."  

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