Informatica Details PowerCenter 7

It also promoted its push into the small-to-medium-sized business market and explained why it backed away from analytical apps.

Rick Whiting, Contributor

October 22, 2003

3 Min Read

SAN DIEGO -- Informatica Corp. Tuesday gave customers at its annual user conference here a glimpse of PowerCenter 7, the planned update of its flagship data-integration app. Executives took the opportunity to promote their push into the small-to-medium-sized business market and to explain their decision to back away from analytical applications.

"We have decided to persistently focus on infrastructure," CEO Gaurav Dhillon said in a keynote speech, referring to such products as PowerCenter, the SuperGlue metadata-integration software that debuted in August, and the mainframe-integration tools Informatica acquired last month when it bought Striva Corp.

Forty percent of IT budgets are spent on integration work and 70% of that is data-related, Dhillon said. This month, market-research firm IDC ranked Informatica as the market-share leader in data integration. Despite SuperGlue's newness, Informatica inked several six-figure deals for the app in the September quarter, according to the company.

As for PowerCenter, Informatica continues to expand it beyond its origin as a tool for building data warehouses. Version 7, due for generally availability by March, should have built-in data profiling based on pattern recognition to scrutinize data quality in a source system before moving it to another system. It's expected to have advanced load-balancing and fail-over capabilities, and to support clusters of heterogeneous servers--the latter a requirement for grid computing. The release also should support 64-bit servers and have enhanced security features.

Using new Web-services capabilities, including support for Web Services Definition Language and Simple Object Access Protocol interfaces, PowerCenter 7 would be able to detect and adapt to changes such as the addition of a new application or how a database is partitioned. The company says PowerCenter 7.1 will be fully Web services-compatible.

"It absolutely has to be flexible. That is the essence of the new wave of software," says Chet Phillips, information technology director in Motorola Inc.'s global telecom solutions sector and an Informatica customer.

New archiving and version-control capabilities will help IT deliver better integration support within T. Rowe Price, a mutual-fund investment-services company. "That's a piece we really, really like," says Melvin Jones, a senior data-integration architect, of the new PowerCenter 7 features.

Informatica decided to discontinue its analytical app in July. It's still being sold and supported by Informatica's resellers and integration partners, and technology from the apps is being built into PowerConnect connectivity tools and PowerAnalyzer analysis software.

It may have been a wise move. Customers were worried the analytical apps were consuming too many research-and-development resources, says Forrester Research analyst Philip Russom. The majority of analytical applications today are developed in house, he says, and when companies do buy packaged analytical apps they generally buy them from vendors such as SAP and Siebel Systems.

This hasn't dissuaded VeriSign Inc., though, which uses Informatica's financial-analytical application and is installing its sales and marketing analytical software. "To me, it was almost like a data warehouse in a box," says MIS VP Brian Lillie. He's pressing Informatica to continue developing the applications' connectivity technology, saying he might even use the maintenance fees he pays as leverage. "I'm going to hold their feet to the fire."

Informatica is developing products for the small and medium-sized business market that should be ready by early next year, Dhillon says. New releases of PowerAnalyzer and SuperGlue also are due out in December.

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