The steady increase in number of business applications that operate outside the firewall – through software as a service (SaaS), commonly called cloud computing – forces organizations to integrate data outside of the enterprise and then back into it. This is true whether the organization uses a privately managed cloud or the rapidly expanding public clouds, where more companies subscribe to a portfolio of business applications and tools every day.

Sales, marketing and human resources organizations that have embraced SaaS find themselves with limited ability to integrate their dispersed data to gain visibility and efficient use of their processes. This problem also has grown in Finance, which is not able to apply analytics to employee and revenue data, and operational management, which is not able to unify marketing and sales information with customer information in efforts to implement a range of operational efficiency and performance improvements.

CIOs and IT management have gotten involved to address these needs for integration and data management. This data issue is expanding into data governance as well; our recent benchmark research found that over one-third of organizations will move data governance to the cloud within two years. Ventana Research asserts that usage of data integration and supporting technologies is an area IT must progressively address in 2010 (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010”). IT also must find methods to improve cooperation dramatically across business and IT (See: “Using Innovative and Disruptive Technology in 2010”).

For two years, Informatica has been advancing its data integration technologies to operate in computing environments outside the enterprise, including business process outsourcing (BPO) and software as a service, which are part of the Informatica Cloud business launched in 2009. I have been assessing these efforts since they started and reviewed in depth as part of my broader analysis in Informatica’s analyst summit. Informatica is focused on three major areas in cloud computing. The first, called Informatica Cloud Services, helps business and data analysts integrate data from their in-house environment interactively with applications and data in the cloud. Second, the Informatica Cloud Platform is for developers and software vendors to build cross-company environments for data integration more easily. The third is the Informatica Cloud Editions and Options for IT organizations to manage interchange of data between enterprise and cloud computing environments. Informatica has designed this architecture to operate through secure agents that can manage the connection between the two environments. Each of these three areas brings technology and service advances.

Informatica Cloud Services takes a simpler approach than the enterprise Informatica PowerCenter designed mostly for IT, being Web-based and using a wizard to integrate enterprise data into cloud-based applications. Its six steps are: define data, source data, define target for data, establish data filters, define field mappings and schedule the integration job to execute. The simplicity and usability of this approach earned it a number-one service rating in the AppExchange of integration services. Any business or data analyst who has basic knowledge of data and logic can use it to transform data into a target location for the data. Informatica has seen significant growth of customers using this service, including Qualcomm, Toshiba and MorganStanley.

Informatica Cloud Platform extends support to software providers and consulting firms that need to provide data integration capabilities from their systems to those of their customers or partners in cloud computing environments. Innovex, Fujitsu and others have engaged Informatica in this area. Informatica has taken the experience of working with customers and partners in their Cloud Integrate eXchange (CIX) to launch a new business called Informatica Marketplace. It will provide a common site where buyers and sellers can find Informatica-based data integration assets and solutions to help with their cloud computing and enterprise needs. They are seeing demand for expanding the number of integration points beyond their existing portfolio of supported interfaces like Oracle,, SAP and Xactly, Informatica is taking responsibility for the platform and infrastructure to bring to the Marketplace a range of assets, from industry content, integration mapping and other cloud services to information such as tutorials and best practices. Informatica will expand this service further to include peer-to-peer and crowd-sourcing to drive further business social collaboration into the offering.

The Informatica PowerCenter Cloud Edition and Options support the enterprise IT efforts to manage data integration from enterprise to cloud or across the cloud for integration back into the enterprise. An enterprise and information architecture to help integrate data must encompass more than the internal enterprise data assets. Along this line, Informatica is providing a fully functional version of Informatica PowerCenter that can operate within the Amazon EC2 environment for data synchronization, data replication, data assessment and even data quality. Informatica also has announced the Cloud Store Option using Amazon EC2 to reduce the time and costs of data archiving in the cloud for enterprise applications from Oracle, SAP and others. It has built an easy method to define entities and rules, then compress and encrypt for storage and management of data in the cloud and sells it for $1 per gigabyte of data. In addition because the archiving of data has a range of compliance requirements to make the data available for reporting and data discovery, Informatica also supports this.

Informatica is looking at the full range of needs for data integration that organizations have for cloud computing. The company asserts that all its products will be available as SaaS over the coming years. Demonstrations of its data quality software used as a service, for example, show great value for a range of business users and analyst professionals who need to ensure the quality of data in their documents and applications. The recent release of Informatica version 9 also focuses on having common technology that is more transparent to align business and IT more efficiently, as my colleague described (See: “Informatica Works to Bridge the Business and IT Divide“). Informatica’s cloud computing efforts are in full production, with over 20,000 integration jobs occurring every day in more than 500 organizations, including Birkenstock, Advent, Aramark and comScore.

At this point, Informatica has little competition in data integration for cloud computing; IBM and Oracle remain mostly focused on the enterprise and have brushed off the cloud as not significant enough to address with product advancements. There are some startups focused on this effort, including Boomi and Jitterbit, which are addressing the need for interconnecting data in cloud computing. Eventually IBM and Oracle will need to step into this market in a concerted manner through advancing their own technology or through acquisition as they are losing opportunities with their customers. Informatica now has the market advantage with both products and customers that have been maturing over the last couple of years, and the trend is growing exponentially. Informatica have enabled a simple method to try this easy method to use data integration as part of their Cloud Data Services. This focus both extends value for their established customers and will attract others to more efficient integration of data across and into cloud computing.

Mark Smith also blogs at