"A lot of the existing SOA approaches have not paid enough attention to the data," says Ko. "The capabilities we're delivering in Informatica 9 are squarely focused on data services capabilities that have been a missing link and a cause of failure in a lot of SOA projects."
The new SOA tools include catalog services that support rapid discovery of data sources, be they on-premise or in the cloud. New Multi-modal data provisioning services provide a data abstraction layer that eliminates custom coding by providing out-of-the-box data delivery formats and protocol options -- from SQL to Web services. Policy-based services governance lets you declare and centrally manage data rules, assuring compliance with reduced system administration cost.
Aspects of these service discovery, delivery and governance capabilities would seem to duplicate SOA middleware. But Karel agrees that the SOA world in general has not paid enough attention to data.
"It's not just the SOA vendors, but architects and practitioners that are building out SOA projects aren't really accepting responsibility for the data management infrastructure to make sure data services are delivering trusted information," he says. "If SOA is to deliver on its promise, it needs to have more effective integration with the data management layer." Despite the advances in Informatica 9, the vendor appears to be holding back in the area of Master Data Management (MDM), where many observers have long expected an acquisition of a specialized MDM partner, such as Siperian or Initiate Systems. It may be that the vendor is wary of provoking Oracle, which licenses Informatica data quality technology as part of its MDM offerings. But rumor has it that Oracle will end its supply agreement with Informatica (as Rajan Chandras reports in this blog post).
"If Oracle were to drop the OEM relationship, it's very likely that Informatica would then feel very comfortable making an MDM acquisition and competing directly with Oracle," Karel says.
As the largest independent vendor remaining in the information integration arena, it has served Informatica well to be cautious, as its continued growth and financial success suggests. But on at least one front, that of MDM, the guarded approach has given customers reason to consider options available from rivals as well as partners. Even upstart open-source vendors like Talend are now pursuing MDM, so the time for caution may have passed.