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Informatica joins the party with new data integration marketplace

by
6th Jul 2010

Following in the footsteps of Salesforce.com and Apple, Informatica has launched an online marketplace, in this case for data integration solutions - and the new offering has been met with approval.

Following in the footsteps of Salesforce.com and Apple, Informatica has thrown open its online marketplace to allow buyers and sellers to share data integration solutions.

The Informatica Marketplace is intended to provide vendors, partners and individual developers with a central location to buy and sell assets and solutions called "Blocks". A Block can be developed for on-premise or cloud use and may include data models, mappings, mapplets, tools, utilities, packaged services, methodologies, white papers, connectors and other useful resources. Users will be able to browse Blocks for industry specific solutions or platform use cases.

"Informatica created the data integration category and we have always been committed to advancing this market. Today Informatica continues to demonstrate our leadership by opening up the Informatica Marketplace to address the expanding challenges of our customers," commented Tony Young, CIO of Informatica. "As stewards of the Informatica Marketplace, Informatica is taking on the responsibility, as the independent leader in data integration, to bring together buyers and sellers with common objectives and interests. The Marketplace is the place to go for data integration solutions that address an extensive data integration solution portfolio."

All Blocks contributed to the Marketplace will be evaluated for quality and value before becoming available. To obtain a 'Seal of Approval,' third-party Blocks hosted in the Informatica Marketplace will undergo lifecycle testing and validation of up to 30 days by the Informatica Global Customer Support organisation. If a Block is not found, buyers can request a solution be built or customised to their needs.

Voices of approval

Buyers and sellers voiced their approval of the new marketplace. "With the Informatica Marketplace, customers like Pfizer can benefit by having one place to find trusted solutions that extends Informatica's products and meets our data management and data integration needs," said Steve Ring, director of Data Management, Medical Systems, Pfizer, while Krishnan Ramanujam, vice president and global head, Enterprise Solutions and Technology Excellence, Tata Consultancy Services, commented: "This platform will not only provide ready-solution options to customers, helping them to reduce time-to-market but will also provide TCS yet another platform to take our thought leadership to our customers easily."

While Salesforce.com has enjoyed success with its own AppExchange and Apple with iTunes, the replication of the online marketplace model in the data integration space has a lot of potential, suggested Carl Olofson, research vice president at IDC. "In the area of data integration, there is still a lot of opportunity," he argued. "An initiative such as Informatica Marketplace, where customers can compare technologies and share experiences, should give them more confidence so they don't feel they are taking as big a risk."

It also gives Informatica an upsell opportunity, suggested Tony Baer of research firm Ovum. "Although the new marketplace gives Informatica partners a place to sell bolt-on offerings, Informatica views it as a lead-generation tool as its core data integration offerings are too complex for an iTunes Store-like treatment," he said.

Informatica's marketplace will be sharply focused on niche data integration use cases rather than general-purpose tools. It won't be a high-volume iTunes-like site, as tools from Informatica and its partners are too specialised. Instead, the site will be aimed at buyers of highly specialised data integration solutions such as mappings for obscure data formats, or highly specialised vertical industry data models.

Loss leader

For Informatica, the purpose of the marketplace is almost like a loss leader - i.e. selling products at an artificially low price to stimulate more profitable sales of other products. Its goal is not to add to top-line sales; in fact, Informatica promises to reinvest whatever modest revenues accrue back into the site. Instead, the payoff is providing customers and prospects with more alternatives to custom development. More importantly to Informatica and its partners, the site should provide a good source of qualified leads for cross-selling and upselling more products and services.

Baer noted that Informatica is following the Salesforce.com model of vetting applications as they are put forward for the Marketplace. "By definition, a marketplace is an extension of the vendor's core brand," he said. "In customers' minds, the App Store is all about Apple and the AppExchange is about Salesforce.com. The challenge for Informatica is maintaining its brand credibility, both with the customer and partners (prospective and current), on the site. Customers must trust the content that they find.

"With vetting being a management-intensive process, success in attracting partners will consume more resources, which could get expensive. The other side of the coin is dealing with the 'long tail' sales phenomenon, where there are large numbers of solutions appealing to tiny audiences. Many niche providers from Salesforce's AppExchange have been concerned about getting buried in obscurity. Using some of its data integration and master data management technologies, hopefully Informatica can make niche offerings, such as vertical content, easier to find."

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