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6/4/2008
04:34 PM
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Informatica Tackles Real-Time, On-Demand and Cross-Enterprise Integration

Platform upgrade addresses emerging latency, data-quality and identify management demands, incorporating technologies from two recent acquisitions.

Comprehensive, unified and open: These are the attributes Informatica stressed yesterday in announcing Informatica 8.6, a major upgrade of its information integration platform. The upgrade incorporates new capabilities for real-time data, integration-as-a-service, cross-enterprise integration, and improved data quality and identity management. The platform is comprehensive in that it addresses even the most forward-looking (some would say bleeding-edge) demands.

Responding to demands for lower latency — some imposed by mandates — Informatica announced a new PowerCenter Real Time Edition with features including streaming changed data capture. The new edition provides continuous trickle feeding as well as a real-time processing engine. It also includes orchestration capabilities and human workflow management tools, based on BPEL (business process execution language), that developers can use to automate data integration.

"Initiatives like the Single European Payment Area are forcing companies worldwide to do things that used to take three days and do them within 15 minutes," says Informatica marketing executive Ash Kulkarni, alluding to banking legislation that mandates a 15-minute wire transfers within the European Union. "The Real Time Edition is about helping organizations to move from batch modes to real-time and near-real-time integration."

With the rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) — and the future promise of Cloud Computing — Informatica has added a new on-demand Data Loader service. The service is designed to integrate off-premise data with other on- or off-premise sources or targets. For example, customers of Salesforce.com could integrate data from this SaaS service with internal databases, other SaaS services or Cloud destinations such as Amazon's SimpleDB.

"We're seeing significant takeup of on-demand computing and, in particular, a lot of Salesforce.com customers using our integration capabilities," says Chris Boorman, chief marketing officer. "This service is a great for small and midsize companies or business people within larger enterprises because it offers simple, Web-based, drag-and-drop functionality. You point and click rather than code."

New B2B Data Exchange capabilities in Informatica 8.6 were developed with global trade and supply chain partnerships in mind. The core capability automates cross-enterprise data exchange, with features for onboarding and ongoing partnership management. B2B Data Transformation features lets you convert myriad, structured, semi-structured and unstructured document formats into desired destination formats. For example, Excel spreadsheets can be parsed into industry-specific standards like SWIFT, ACORD, NACHA or EDI formats. The Data Transformation features are built on parsing technology gained from Itemfield, which was acquired by Informatica in November.

The fourth major upgrade announced yesterday is Proactive Data Quality with Identity Resolution, an upgrade of Informatica's Data Quality 8.6 module. The enhancements are designed to proactively spot overlapping data at the point of entry, with applications such as anti money laundering, immigration, security and population analysis in mind. Features include cross-language mapping and data identification across multiple systems and more than 60 languages. The Identity Resolution capabilities are from Identity Systems, which Informatica acquired in May.

Informatica touts 8.6 as "the first unified data integration platform to mitigate risks associated with assembling technology components from a variety of vendors." It also stressed open support for "the broadest array of operating systems, databases, middleware, business intelligence products and application software." These statements are obvious attempts to contrast Informatica 8.6 with integration technologies from the likes of SAP, Oracle and, most particularly, IBM. But these giants have gone out of their way to say they'll be as open to third-party technologies as any independent vendor, and customers with disparate technology portfolios will surely demand as much.

Informatica's stronger card may its nimble and focused execution on delivering a unified suite. The company only recently acquired Itemfield and Identity Systems, for example, yet it has already incorporated the technologies into a suite with "a common user interface and reusability facilities based on a common metadata repository." And in addressing SaaS and Cloud Computing with on-demand services, Informatica is clearly looking out over the horizon.

Informatica 8.6 starts shipping June 30. The core PowerCenter product starts at $140,000.

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