What could possibly entice me to return to Las Vegas for the third time in three weeks? Informatica World 2015. Frankly, I was curious to see just what was a-goin' on with the company. We know this is a group with serious chops in the data management space, but it's also a bit of an anomaly generation-wise. Founded in 1993, Informatica doesn't have so many decades of seniority as IBM, HP, or Oracle, but it's far too old to be a precocious startup any longer. Informatica was born prior to the Dot Com boom, yet is still trying to define itself, actually a lot like most 22-year-olds I know. Last year the company graduated with a Master's Degree in Data Management, and now it's hitting the workforce with new energy. I'm not sure how the whole "going private" move fits this metaphor, but Informatica isn't talking about that yet either until the deal closes.
The central concept of an Intelligent Data Platform is an interesting one, and generally falls into the realm of "getting organized." As my previous post on the sexiness of data stewards points out, this is a critical problem to solve, and it's not getting any easier. In some ways, Informatica is the California Closets of data management for a wide range of areas spanning business intelligence, data warehousing, analytics, and perhaps big data, too. By which I mean to say that it's far more pleasant and manageable to have your data hanging neatly pressed when you want it, and folded away tidily when you don't.
The company has executed on last year's goals of delivering on Rev, MDM10, and Secure @Source, each of which offers a targeted package to a particular aspect of data management, be it preparation, integration, quality, single source of truthiness, or governance. Now looking forward, there are a few new major initiatives:
- Pulling everything into one platform - In a way, this will be the actual realization of the Intelligent Data Platform vision, with a common engine, repository, and workflows to manage all data in the enterprise. Call it data management management, if that's not too meta...
- Making that platform more versatile - Add in smart templates that recognize your data, automate optimization for you, increase performance, and connect to a much wider array of other vendor's stuff. Together, this makes it much easier to use and more agile for the enterprise.
- Mapping it and analyzing it - The Live Data Map seems like a powerful way to quickly find what you need, and then leverage it in an Intelligent Data Lake to get some business insights. This shows the user orientation of Informatica, not just to organize, but to discover and analyze data.
All of these are worthy directions, but I'm most excited to see how the third bullet items play out. These represent Informatica not just "doing the same stuff but better," but instead learning some new and valuable tricks. I think going private may actually be the right course for the company, giving it the freedom to invest heavily in modernization and new products for the big data world, where being publicly listed requires too much short-term focus on profitability. Of course, there are other companies who compete in this space, yet none have quite the blend of learned wisdom and raw energy that Informatica is bringing as it grows up.