Informatica and the Challenge of Data Unification

Informatica is clearly a leader in data integration. In fact, a case could be made for Informatica being the leader in data integration. Since superlatives are not typically part of my lexicon, this represents something of an accomplishment on Informatica’s part. Informatica has been around for just over 20 years and is now driving over $1 billion in revenue. Informatica is unique because it’s the only large leading vendor in the data integration space that is a pure-play in integration. This means that Informatica’s future is inexorably tied to how enterprises leverage data. This is a good thing.

When you look at IT, you find that everything is data driven. Solutions and tools differ only by what data they align with and how they put this data to use. The reason we can say this with confidence is that every event is the result of one or more changes in state. As a result, whether we chose to formally recognize these changes in state from a data standpoint, they are responsible for initiating IT activities. For a comprehensive discussion of this topic, see ESG’s market summary report on Decision Analytics: Building the Foundation for Predictive Intelligence and Beyond.

For the majority of the last 20 years, enterprises have been entrenched in developing at least one system of record (SoR) to manage their data. Specialization gave rise to multiple SoRs, which drove data warehousing (DWH), master data management (MDM), data integration (DI), data quality (DQ), and enterprise application integration (EAI) needs. Informatica caught this wave and delivered products to address all of these needs.

Now that the web and more recently mobility have come of age, there is a transition taking place in application design. The focus is shifting from SoR to system of engagement (SoE). This is a significant shift that involves interactions that are multi-channels, contextual, potentially socially aware, data dependent, and often performed in real time. SoE interactions also will have a distinct bi-directional M2M orientation meaning that they may follow a variety of interaction patterns including request/reply, pub/sub, and sense/respond. What sets Informatica aside is that it provides explicit support for real-time application integration across all of these interaction patterns. This is because Informatica brings together data integration, event-driven architecture, data streaming, event processing, and decisioning. The foundation for this is an ultra low-latency messaging transport – Informatica’s Ultra Messaging (UM) platform. With performance within optimized environments down in the 50-100 ns range, UM is clearly high performance. When you then layer on PowerCenter connectivity, Vibe data streaming (VDS), CEP for real-time data analysis, and RulePoint for decisioning, you have a comprehensive and high-performance solution to SoE data unification needs. I’m choosing to use the word unification purposely because Informatica’s combination of capabilities goes well beyond what we think of when we say data integration. Data unification is a combination of data integration (streaming, aggregation, transformation, and enrichment), analytics, and decisioning set within a real-time framework for processing and management. Although Informatica is being actively pursued by Dell, IBM, Oracle, SAP, TIBCO, and a host of smaller vendors, Informatica currently trumps them on functionality and vision.

Informatica’s thorough treatment of data unification ideally positions them to address the next generation of use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT). With an estimated 50 billion devices by 2020 and nearly all of these devices producing and/or consuming data, the future will be far more data-driven, calling for even more capabilities focused on data routing, aggregation, transformation, integration, machine learning, analysis, and unification. There will also be a need for a logical and physical data specific abstraction layer to manage how data is aggregated, transported, consolidated, and distributed. Although new standards, conventions, terminology, and architectures are needed to move IoT forward, the data-centricity of IoT activities puts Informatica in the center of a significant opportunity. Although Informatica is being fairly tight lipped on its immediate IoT plans, the direction of the portfolio over the last several years provides a very good foundation for becoming a leader in the data unification needs associated with IoT.

Topics: Internet of Things Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Cloud Services & Orchestration