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Informatica beefs up role in burgeoning Cloud database market

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1st Mar 2010
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Analysts see the Cloud database market as a significant opportunity - and Informatica is tapping into it in a "timely" fashion.

Informatica has been beefing up its Cloud offerings with new data archiving options and the introduction of an online apps marketplace.

Tapping into the Cloud Computing revolution has been a strategic intent for Informatica for some time as it seeks to expand its footprint. "Transactional and operational data is fragmented across multiple departmental database applications like ERP and CRM. Five years ago, the scope of data integration technology was limited to integrating these on premise data silos," comments Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbassi. "Industry analysts estimated that in 2005 the total annual IT spend on software and services in this core data warehousing and operational data integration market was $11 billion. Every year we advance the frontiers of the data integration market.

"Three emerging trends are fueling new customer demand. First, planning data is managed outside of these data silos in unstructured documents, typically Microsoft Excel. Second, more and more data is outsourced to the new breed of Cloud Computing and business process outsourcing vendors. Third, valuable data is managed by trading partners including suppliers."

A key strand of the Informatica product strategy is Cloud Computing data integration to retain control over off premise data managed by Cloud Computing vendors, he adds. "With more than 500 customers, Informatica Cloud services for Salesforce.com, won top ranking with the Best Of AppExchange for Data Integration award for the second consecutive year," he cites as an example.

To this push, Informatica has now added its Data Archive Cloud Store Option which the firm says supports almost all structured data including relational databases, enterprise applications and data warehouses. Abbassi says: "Using the Cloud store option of Informatica data archive, our customers can reduce the storage costs of inactive data while retaining access mandated by regulatory or other requirement."

The service will initially be available at the end of the first quarter of 2010 on Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). Future versions will support deployment on other Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers.

"Companies are rethinking their approach to data retetntion as their data volumes continue to grow exponentially and they have to hold onto that data for long periods of time," explained Adam Wilson, general manager for ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) at Informatica. "Informatica's Data Archive Cloud Store Option provides the ideal approach to cost-effectively maintain these large, infrequently accessed data volumes."

A big opportunity

Analysts see the Cloud database market as a significant opportunity. "Organisations today are looking to find ways to more cost-effectively and securely archive their data, while maintaining easy access," commented Simon Robinson, research director for Storage at The 451 Group. "Storing archived data in the Cloud is well suited to the elasticity of Cloud services, given the dynamic nature of the data access and the promise of cost-efficiencies gained through IaaS deployments.”

Ovum's Madan Sheina reckons that the Data Archive Cloud Store Option is a "timely" IaaS addition. "Companies are facing increasingly stringent regulatory compliance mandates that govern how they store and retain enterprise data," said Sheina. "At the same time, the rising cost of data proliferation is forcing them to consider the economics of their data archiving and retention strategies.

"Like other Informatica Cloud solutions, Informatica's Data Archive Cloud Store Option attempts to squeeze out the traditionally high costs associated with archiving applications data in-house. Costs mount up in several ways, through on premise storage and specialized database skills in the data centre. Pricing for Data Archive Cloud Store Option starts at $1 per gigabyte. However, it's pushing CapEx to Cloud providers that really lowers the cost."

But Sheina questions whether Informatica's claim that the new offering can lower the complexity of the data archiving cycle. "The Cloud simply becomes another storage device in an ILM architecture," argued Sheina. "Finding the 'right' ILM balance isn't something you can easily prescribe out of the box, and companies still need to figure out an optimal strategy for archiving database and enterprise data, with or without Cloud storage mixed in.

"Moreover, the matter of data security always seems to gray the cloud - largely a problem of perception and trust, and there's little that advances in data security, encryption, compression and business rule logic can do to alleviate that - as well as potential performance issues relating to access and retrieval."

To market, to market

Meanwhile Informatica has opened the Informatica Marketplace, a community of buyers and sellers focused on sharing and leveraging data integration solutions using the same model as Salesforce.com with its AppExchange.

Informatica's Marketplace will host solutions for the seven data integration categories including: Enterprise Data Integration, Data Quality, Application Information Lifecycle Management, Complex Event Processing, Cloud Data Integration, MDM and B2B Data Exchange. It will draw on the company's existing broad ecosystem - 400 systems integrators, 65 ISVs and/or OEMs, and 52,000 developers.

"We are the first ones out there in our space who have adopted this kind of open data integration marketplace," said Judy Ko, VP of product marketing at Informatica. "It's about providing a one stop shop for the customer, to solve a business problem, even if it isn't using our stuff. We anticipate that things will be placed that are not extensions of our products."

The marketplace concept won more favour from Ovum's Sheina. "It is an interesting idea; it aims to encourage the development community at large to build, share and monetize data integration IP and products built around PowerCenter, data quality and other Informatica solutions," said Sheina. "The notion of community development - that links vendors, enterprise developers and partners - is built on similar principles to open source communities, and will encourage companies to ramp up their Cloud Computing initiatives."

But while the marketplace idea has been put into practice by Salesforce.com and others, the data integration market is rather different to, for example, the CRM space. "Informatica's intention isn't necessarily to trade its broad and complex platform on an open marketplace," said Sheina. "Rather it is to foster specific development of focused and repeatable solutions that are function and industry specific. Success will be gauged by how many of Informatica's 52,000 developers on TechNet and 400 partners will participate and contribute data integration components and solutions such as mappings, mapplets, connectors, templates, dictionaries, and vertical solutions.

"Informatica isn't looking to draw significant revenues from the Marketplace, but it will be looking at it to provide a formalised infrastructure for development and monetization of data integration solutions and to better direct its own product strategy. Licensing implications also need to be hammered out. Informatica will need to put some coding standards, benchmarks and certification programs in place to ensure that these components are up to scratch."

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