Informatica 9.6 aims to attract business users and lower cost
Informatica claims to have raised the bar for data integration and quality following the release of its PowerCenter and Data Quality 9.6 platform. This release scores points with Ovum because it mirrors much of the functionality that our enterprise clients are inquiring about and looking for – notably, business-friendly governance features, seamless integration and management of data across cloud and on-premise systems, and quicker integration cycles.
Equally noteworthy is the company’s effort to harden the customer and partner ecosystem around its data integration platform, and the revised packaging and pricing aimed at platform-purchasing. Informatica 9.6 clearly follows a strategy of convincing organizations that data quality and integration is best served by an integrated platform, rather than point tools.
The attention given to platform integration and cost-effectiveness will appeal to existing and new customers and solutions partners that want to graduate from single-use departmental projects to complex multi-project deployments.
Making data integration and quality more interesting for business users
The rise of the data steward reflects a growing understanding of the importance of aligning data quality tooling to a robust enterprise data governance infrastructure for agile data integration. However, effective data governance cannot be provided prescriptively; it needs to be developed as a discipline, supported by a methodology that encourages customers to take a more holistic approach to their data integration and quality cycles.
Informatica acknowledges this in the 9.6 release, which adds new process-driven capabilities mapped to typical data stewardship tasks, including self-discovery capabilities (data profiling, data enrichment, rule building, setting of policy procedures, exception handling, and dashboard generation) to communicate the health of data to senior management stakeholders – all unified in a single management console. To help, Informatica has revamped its business glossary in 9.6 for better collaboration, and enhanced the formulation of data quality rules and management tools to make them more business-friendly. To come are additional capabilities like masking retention and survivorship that will tap other tools in the Informatica portfolio.
Future-proofing cloud and on-premise data integration investments
Reflecting its focus and heavy investment in cloud, Informatica now boasts over 200 companies using its platform for cloud integration – with over 2 billion records now being processed though this channel daily. But perhaps unknown to many is Informatica’s unique ability to swap integration logic across both on-premise and cloud environments, without change.
Informatica 9.6 advances this differentiation with extended cloud service capabilities for scaling data quality, master data management (MDM), test data management across both environments without recoding, and richer connectors for Oracle (EBS) and SAP business applications. Significantly, 9.6 leverages Informatica’s Vibe technology – an embeddable virtual data machine that allows mapping and sharing of existing data integration and quality logic coded in cloud and on-premise applications.
This “map once, deploy anywhere” approach acknowledges the differences between enterprise and departmental integration needs and the need to drive better collaboration, synchronization, and auditing of integration projects across different deployment styles. It also reflects a market reality: companies will always maintain systems (and data) in both environments.
Agility tackles business IT collaboration, operational integration needs
Business agility arguably starts with data agility – specifically to access, integrate, and deliver data for running efficient business processes. Admittedly, Informatica and other data integration vendors have done a great deal of work in this area, using techniques like data virtualization and rapid prototyping. Informatica claims that its 9.6 platform is the only data integration platform that provides a fully integrated, agile methodology and experience and that also delivers business value up to five times faster with a more aligned approach.
What does the company mean by this? Basically, Informatica has infused greater collaborative tooling for both IT and business, using co-development techniques such as role-based tooling, rapid prototyping, in-line profiling, data validation testing, and proactive monitoring and alerting of core PowerCenter ETL processes.
Making data integration and quality more embeddable
Informatica 9.6 also introduces a trio of new toolkits and trial editions that aim to increase the data integration ecosystem – for both systems integrator partners and enterprise IT developers – by allowing them to embed data integration and quality into business processes and solutions.
To assist with this, 9.6 provides new adapter and cloud SDKs for partners and a Vibe “Starter Kit” for quicker onboarding and configuration of integration patterns around synchronizing, replicating, masking, subsetting, and validating data and a new Connector Toolkit that greatly simplifies the development of custom data integration connectors using Eclipse-based authoring and configuration.
The resulting connectors are easily published to Informatica Marketplace (via PC Express) or sharing. Additionally, Informatica is deepening support for product data integration with a special rules package for embedding PIM data into integration and quality processes.
New simplified packaging, pricing options
More significant, for customers, perhaps is the new packaging and pricing scheme that Informatica is launching with 9.6 – the aim being to make it simple, more flexible, and cheaper. What Informatica has done is remove the number of separately licensed standalone parts in the platform. In the past, every time a new technology or premium features were introduced into the platform – e.g., advanced XML, data validation testing, proactive monitoring – they typically became chargeable options to the existing platform.
Informatica is looking to change that in the new foundational 9.6 PowerCenter and Data Quality Standard, Advanced, and Premium Editions, which are integrated with more tools and features (such as rapid prototyping, in-line profiling, lineage, test data validation, and monitoring) without an increase in price. This will also allow customers to incrementally cascade up to more-advanced functionality as they upgrade from lower editions.
Ridding the platform of hanging options is a logical and welcome move, and will better sync the data integration and data quality product lines and encourage customers to more easily mature their data integration and quality initiatives, without having to break the bank. Informatica will be better able to differentiate and market its data integration and data quality platform editions according to customer maturity, simplify ordering of its software, and, perhaps more importantly, encourage customers to pursue a more holistic, platform-based approach to licensing its software.