HP Taps Informatica's Growing Information Management Portfolio

HP's business intelligence unit resells data integration, data quality and MDM software as Informatica acquires its way into complex event processing.
The decision to choose or, more to the point, to avoid a particular vendor is often as much about what it lacks as it is about what it offers. The more significant the gap, the more important it becomes for the vendor to borrow, build or buy the desired technology. This week, HP closed gaps in its BI-related software and services portfolio by striking a deeper partnership with Informatica. Last week, Informatica closed an emerging gap in its own information management software portfolio by acquiring complex event processing (CEP) vendor Agent Logic. In both cases these first-step moves seem rife with possibility.

HP announced a deeper partnership with Informatica and three new offerings on September 8. The "solution bundles" combine Informatica's data integration software with the HP Neoview data warehouse platform as well as HP BI consulting and implementation services. The first offering, HP Neoview with Informatica Data Integration Platform, is said to go beyond the obvious combination of extract, transform, load (ETL) and data warehousing infrastructure. HP Master Data Management (MDM) Services with Informatica Data Integration Platform, the second offering, is intended to ensure consistent data dimensions, such as customer data or product data, across source systems and business units within an organization. The third offering, HP Information Quality Management Services with Informatica Data Integration Platform, is designed to take on data quality problems such as overlapping or conflicting names and addresses. Consulting and guidance on data governance issues are a part of all three offerings, and the intent is to provide more than preintegrated technology.

"With our services we're delivering a complete package that solves the end-to-end problems customers are facing," says Giuliano DiVitantonio, director of marketing and alliances at HP Business Intelligence Solutions. DiVitantonio notes that HP and Informatica have been involved in many joint implementations requiring customer data integration. "That's a business problem rather than IT problem, so the engagement starts with our consulting and deep expertise rather than the piece of technology that we have to implement," he says.

The partnership between HP and Informatica is not new. Informatica worked with the Knightsbridge BI consulting business HP acquired in 2006, but cooperation is said to have intensified since the creation of HP's Business Intelligence Solutions unit late last year.

"We've done a lot of development work to support HP Neoview, and the majority of Neoview customers are using Informatica software," says Harry Gould, vice president of worldwide alliances for Informatica. "With this announcement we're taking the next step to make this a far more strategic relationship."

HP has little of its own information integration software, a competitive weakness versus rivals such as IBM. Thus, partnerships with independents like Informatica and Ab Initio are crucial. In focused areas such as MDM, even Informatica turns to specialized partners including Initiate Systems and Siperian. HP will likely pull additional software suppliers into MDM deployments that start with the joint HP- Informatica offering.

"These bundles are a way to accelerate deployment, but they will typically be part of larger solutions that will touch on other components," DiVitantonio says. "We partner with most vendors in this space, and we will bring in other technologies as needed."

Given HP's stated objective to grow its software portfolio, some observers have speculated that Informatica would be an ideal acquisition candidate for HP. Gould of Informatica jokingly deflected a question on that topic saying "I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that Informatica will be acquiring HP."

Informatica is actively acquiring smaller companies such as Agent Logic. That deal, announced on September 2, follows the company's strategy to diversify its information management portfolio. Informatica has developed low-latency data integration products in recent years, but those tools are focused on historical information stored in databases, marts and warehouses. The CEP technology offered by Agent Logic is used to detect events and patterns of events within high-volume, fast-moving data as it flows within transactional systems and networks.

Until recently, CEP has been used mainly by financial institutions and government intelligence agencies. However, the technology is finally being deployed in more mainstream real-time applications such as shipping, e-commerce, utility and IT applications. A ten-year-old private company with 75 employees, Agent Logic has specialized in surveillance and security applications for government agencies.

"We think this will be key intellectual property that we can use horizontally to build interfaces for event-driven, active integration," says Girish Pancha, Informatica's executive vice president and general manager of information management. "It's not just about processing, it's about responding to events in real time. We think [CEP] fits with data integration because you can correlate events with historical context."

Pancha says Agent Logic's technology will likely be matched with Informatica's identity resolution capabilities to drive applications such as anti-money laundering, fraud detection, and real-time rewards, cross-selling and up-selling in e-commerce scenarios.

Leaders in CEP include specialists Aleri, Progress Apama and StreamBase. But mainstream vendors are fast joining the fray. IBM acquired its way into CEP with its 2008 purchase of AptSoft. Oracle picked up CEP technologies with its acquisition of BEA. TIBCO entered the market in 2006 with its internally developed BusinessEvents software.

Is Informatica just checking a box on a list of must-have technologies? Pancha says no: "We're seeing real opportunities to use this technology in a variety of data integration scenarios, and we will also expand Agent Logic's current government customer base with the help of our distribution in the U.K., Israel and elsewhere.

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