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IBM and Informatica Take Next Steps Toward Cloud Delivery

As the cloud model matures, new offerings pave the way for shared analytic insight and services-based data integration.
Public, Private and Hybrid Options

Informatica addressed both private- and public-cloud scenarios this week in announcing a new Cloud 9 Platform, in addition to new services and upgrades to existing software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings. Cloud 9 is billed as a multi-tenant, enterprise-class "data integration platform as a service," and it's aimed at helping developers and systems integrators build, share, reuse and run data integration services and data quality mappings in the cloud.

"Data integration will be the defining capability for cloud computing -- not outsourced data centers or sexy new application solutions," writes Chris Boorman, Informatica's chief marketing officer, in this introductory blog post on Cloud 9. "To really embrace cloud computing, one needs a whole new way of delivering enterprise data integration that brings together the ease of use that business users require with the sophistication that must be delivered for IT architects. Otherwise, cloud computing will simply remain the domain of non-critical fancy-looking applications on the periphery of true enterprise business requirements."

Support for business-IT collaboration is a core capability of the November 10 Informatica 9 release, and Cloud 9 uses the platform's collaborative underpinnings to help developers and business users build, share and deploy data integration or data quality components as services on private or public clouds.

Informatica also announced a Winter '09 release of its existing Informatica Cloud Services this week. These SaaS-based data integration applications let non-technical Salesforce CRM and Force.com users tap into on-premise or cloud-based data. The upgrades are said to deliver broader connectivity, more flexible scheduling capabilities and better support for assignment rules associated with marketing leads. A new sandbox feature lets users copy data synchronization, replication and quality tasks for non-production work such as development and testing. The vendor also introduced Informatica Address Quality Cloud Services, which offer a SaaS-based version of the company's Address Doctor capabilities to verify and correct postal address details in 240 countries.

Advancing its offerings for Amazon EC2, the vendor introduced Informatica Data Quality Cloud Edition, which is said to deliver a broad range of data quality services, including profiling, cleansing, matching and monitoring. These services can be flexibly turned on and off as needed through Amazon's pay-as-you-use model, and they are compatible with the recently announced Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as both source and target endpoints, so you can access and store custom application data in the cloud.

With this week's announcements Informatica emphasized that it has been working on cloud-based approaches for three years, and it peppered its press releases with quotes from customers who have been working with established services that have been commercially available for many months.

"We're using Informatica Cloud Services to replicate millions of rows of data from Salesforce CRM to a centralized database running on Amazon EC2," stated Stephen Brown, technical architect at Telegraph Media Group. "As we think about moving more of our IT infrastructure to the cloud, the ability to develop more complex mappings and workflows and run them as custom services for line-of-business managers will allow us to continue to provide self-service while IT remains in control."

There was much talk of a "Hybrid Cloud" model at this week's Interop event, and it was very much about providing the combination of self-service flexibility while making sure that IT remains in control. The private approach appeals to those who have privacy and security concerns while the public options liberate the enterprise from the rigors of infrastructure investment and management. Even if enterprises throw in the towel and farm out compute capacity and data storage to low-cost cloud providers, there will still be plenty of work for IT, says Croll of Bitcurrent. "Their role simply moves up the stack to managing policy and provisioning," he says, and within large organizations, that alone is more than enough to keep armies of IT workers busy.