My colleague Mark Smith and I recently attended data integration vendor Informatica’s annual industry analyst event. The company offered some impressive numbers regarding growth and profitability over the years, with 30 consecutive quarters of growth even during the recent recession. Through acquisition and its own research and development activities Informatica now has a broad portfolio of products. It includes data integration and supporting migration, replication and synchronization needs, master data management, complex event processing and other elements of the information management spectrum. As at last year’s event, the company retains a sharp focus on the data integration related portfolio, and its product roadmap addresses four key themes impacting that market: big data, cloud computing, social media and mobile technology. We also see these themes as significant technology trends, and our approach is outlined in our 2012 research agendas for information management and in the larger business technology innovation agenda. Thus it was interesting to hear Informatica’s take on them.
There is little question that the impact of data on a large scale is growing in organizations of all types. Our benchmark research on both big data and Hadoop shows the role these technologies play in processing large amounts of data and reveals the challenges organizations face in coping with huge volumes of data. Last fall Informatica introduced HParser to help organizations use Hadoop, and we expect more Hadoop capabilities in the upcoming release of Informatica 9.5, which is scheduled to be launched at Informatica World in May. Users of data integration products wonder whether Hadoop is replacing such tools. For its part, Informatica claims its license sales are expanding as a result of Hadoop and offered the example of JPMorgan Chase, which was shared last fall at Hadoop World. In his presentation, Larry Feinsmith of JPMorgan Chase explained that use of Informatica had actually increased in conjunction with its use of Hadoop. We do not find this result surprising, as our research shows that the majority of organizations (63%) are not replacing existing technologies with Hadoop but rather adding Hadoop to their data processing capabilities. Informatica is developing new capabilities as part of its 9.5 release to capitalize on this opportunity.
With respect to cloud computing, Informatica was early to market, establishing a cloud presence with a separate division that delivers a subset of its product capabilities via the cloud. Our business data in the cloud benchmark research shows that organizations are expanding their use of cloud-based applications and services and that within two years cloud-based deployments of information management applications may rival on-premises deployments in numbers. In this context, Informatica stated its intent to offer its entire product line and all its capabilities via the cloud. Granted, delivering that will take some time but company officials said they expect to be able to complete this transition over the next couple of years. In reality, from Informatica’s perspective the transition to the cloud will produce a “hybrid IT” environment where some processing is done on premises and some via the cloud. Our research suggests that this will be the case in general: Half of organizations said they will move data from the cloud to on-premises systems in the future, and 42 percent expect to move data from their premises to cloud-based applications.
For depth on Informatica’s social media efforts, look to Mark Smith’s post. But I will note that the rise of social media as a new and important data source provides Informatica with an opportunity to capitalize on as part of its expanding set of data integration capabilities.
In the business landscape we tend to view mobile technology most often in the context of business intelligence, since it can be a valuable channel through which to deliver those capabilities. It is less likely that organizations would use mobile devices to author data integration routines or perform other information management tasks. However, the spread of mobile technologies is having an impact on information management. Organizations are rearchitecting their IT infrastructures to support mobile devices and also need to collect and process more location-based data for employees on the go. Mobile technology also creates new challenges for securing and governing access to data. In this area Informatica had little to say. While acknowledging these issues, it gave few specifics as to how its products will address them.
Besides trends in big data, the cloud, social media and mobile technology, our research agenda also recognizes the influences of analytics and collaboration on business intelligence and information management. Informatica is at a disadvantage relative to some of the other major information management vendors with respect to analytics. IBM, Oracle, SAS and SAP all offer both information management and analytics products. In our research on business analytics more than two-thirds (69%) of participants said they spend more time preparing data than analyzing it. Vendors whose portfolios include capabilities to deal with both tasks are in a better position to integrate them and reduce the amount of time necessary to derive business value from the data. While Informatica makes its capabilities available as a service, for instance to tap into lineage information while using a business intelligence product, I’d like to see it produce tighter integration with third-party tools to tackle this important issue.
Similarly, I’d like to see more specifics on Informatica’s collaboration strategy. The company demonstrated a prototype of collaboration around its Business Glossary product and discussed some collaboration capabilities grounded in the master data management process. As indicated in my previous post, we think many business intelligence and information management processes are moving to a more collaborative approach, so vendors need a plan here. Specifically, I think it is important to support market-leading collaboration technologies in order to attract a critical mass to create meaningful dialogue that would add value to the underlying processes. I expect we’ll hear more from Informatica on its plans for collaboration; these demonstrations were clearly early work in the field.
Given the breadth of Informatica’s product offerings and its successful execution of sales, I recommend you consider them when evaluating your information management needs. Although this event was only for the analyst community, you can expect to hear more details as Informatica brings version 9.5 to market in the coming months.