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VentanaResearch_TechInnovation_Award_Winner_2013At the Informatica World 2014 conference, the company known for its data integration software unveiled the Intelligent Data Platform. In the last three years Informatica has expanded beyond data integration and now has a broad software portfolio that facilitates information management within the enterprise and through cloud computing. The Intelligent Data Platform forms a framework for its portfolio. This expression of broad potential is important for Informatica, which has been slow to position its products as capable of more than data integration. A large part of the value it provides lies in what its products can do to help organizations strengthen their enterprise architectures for managing applications and data. We see Informatica’s sweet spot in facilitating efficient use of data for business and IT purposes; we call this information optimization.

Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform is built in three layers. The bottom layer is Informatica Vibe, the virtual data machine that I covered at its launch last year. Informatica Vibe won our Ventana Research 2013 Technology Innovation Award for information optimization. It virtualizes information management technology to operate on any platform whether on-premises or in any form of cloud computing.

Above Informatica Vibe in the platform is a data infrastructure layer, which contains all the technologies that act upon data, from integration through archiving, masking, mastering, quality assurance, security, streaming and other tasks. At the core of this second layer is Informatica PowerCenter, which provides data integration and other capabilities central to processing of data into information. PowerCenter provides parsing, profiling, joining and filtering but also is integral for data services through Informatica’s Data Integration Hub that operates in a publish-and-subscribe model. The latest PowerCenter release, version 9.6, focuses on providing agility in development and provides a series of packaged editions that provide certain levels of functionality; users choose among them to fit their requirements. This developer support includes advances in test data management and data masking for enterprise-class needs. There are editions for Informatica Data Quality, too. The latest release of Informatica MDM, 9.7, improves the user experience for data stewards along with enhanced performance and governance. Not much was mentioned at the conference about Informatica’s Product Information Management (PIM) offering that our most recent Value Index vendor and product assessment rated Hot.

The third layer is data intelligence. Here Informatica has added capabilities to organize, infer and recommend action from data and to provision and map data to business needs. In addition Informatica’s Business Glossary and Metadata Manager help establish consistent definitions and use of data for operational or analytical tasks. Informatica RulePoint, a product that also was not mentioned much at the conference, processes events through workflow in a continuous rule based manner; depending on how processing occurs, its function is to support complex event processing or event streaming.

On top of the Intelligent Data Platform, Informatica has added a couple of new innovations. Project Springbok, which is not yet released, is a tool for preparation of data for analytics and operations through its Innovation division. This new product will use Informatica’s expertise in providing access to and integration of data sources, which according to our information optimization benchmark research is the top analyst requirement in 39 percent of organizations. Despite data warehouse efforts, analysts and business users still have to access many data sources. Simplifying information is critical for nearly all organizations that have more than 16 data sources. Demonstrations showed that Springbok can dynamically create and automate the transformations that run in PowerCenter. It also offers access to a master reference to ensure that data is processed in a consistent manner. IT professionals gain visibility into what business units are doing to show how they can help in provisioning data. Even in beta release Springbok has significant potential to address the range of data issues analysts face and reduce the time they spend on data-related tasks. Our research has shown for several years that this data challenge presses organizations to diversify the tools they use, and software vendors in this market have responded. Informatica will have to compete with more than a dozen others and demonstrate its superiority for integration. Our research finds that the lines of business and IT now share responsibility for information availability in 42 percent of organizations. Informatica will have to demonstrate its value to line of business analysts who are evaluating a new generation of tools for data and analytics.

A second innovation is a new data security product called Secure@Source, also being developed in the Innovation unit, is designed to protect data assets where they are stored and processed. This product moves Informatica into the information security market segment. Secure@Source helps users discover, detect, assess and protect data assets in their persistent locations and during consumption by applications or Internet services. The question is whether Informatica can convince current customers to examine it or will have to approach information security professionals who are not users of Informatica. Security of data is among the top five required data activities according to our research and a key part of the manageability requirements that organizations find important in considering products. Informatica has an opportunity to insert itself into the dialogue in this area if it properly presents the new product to IT and business people alike.

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_02_defining_big_data_analyticsIn big data Informatica has made steady progress, but to reach its potential in this segment will require more investments in the mixed big data environments, not just Hadoop. As our research has shown for three years, customers want big data to distribute processing and integration of data across sources. Our recent research on big data analytics finds that three out of four (76%) define big data analytics as being about accessing and analyzing all sources of data. This poses a challenge for data integration, and our new research on big data integration finds that most have a long way to go in accessibility and mastering of data. Informatica begins to address this and has an opportunity in helping develop a new generation of data architecture.

vr_NG_Finance_Analytics_09_too_much_time_to_prepare_dataIn cloud computing, the company has consolidated its efforts to ensure that the cloud is part of its core technology. It released new versions for its cloud-based integration, quality, master and real-time data management products; these begin to address the challenge of process and application integration, which are important considerations for businesses in determining whether integrate or replace point cloud solutions to improve efficiency of tasks and business processes. Informatica has continued to focus on integrating mostly with the large cloud computing providers and has yet to invest in streamlining processes in particular lines of business. This has left openings for other cloud integration providers to compete, making it harder than expected for Informatica to dominate in this segment. The next step here is up to Informatica.

I believe that one of the highest potential opportunities for Informatica is in the application architectures of organizations whose business processes have been distributed through a collection of cloud-based applications that lack interconnectivity and integration. For example, finance departments often have software from different providers for budgeting and planning, consolidation and reporting, accounting and payroll management. When these applications are spread across the cloud, connecting them is a real challenge, let alone trying to get information from sales force automation and customer service applications. The implications of this are shown in our finance analytics research : Data-related tasks consume the most time and impede the efficiency of financial processes as they do in all other line of business areas that we have researched. Similar situations exist in customer-related areas (marketing, sales and customer service) and employee management processes (recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation and learning). Informatica has made progress with Informatica Cloud Extend for interconnecting tasks across applications, which can help streamline processes. While perhaps not obvious to data integration specialists, this level of process automation and integration is essential to the future of cloud computing. Informatica also announced it will offer master data management in the cloud; this should help it not just to place a data hub in the cloud but to help companies interoperate separate cloud applications more efficiently.

Overall the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform is a good reference model for tasks related to turning data into information assets. But it could be much distinct in how its automation accelerates the processing of data faster and helps specific roles work faster and smarter. This platform does not provide a context for enterprise architectures that are stretched between on-premises and various cloud deployments. Organizations will have to determine whether Informatica’s approach fits their future data and architectural needs. As Informatica pushes its platform approach, it has to ensure it is seen as a leader in big data integration, helping business analysts with data, supporting a larger number of application sources and connecting cloud computing through unifying business applications. This won’t be easy to accomplish as Informatica has not been as progressive in the broader approach to big data and use across operations and analytics.

VR_leadershipwinnerInformatica has been growing substantially and is getting close to US$1 billion in annual software revenue. We have recognized its success through rating it a Hot vendor in our Data Integration Value Index and naming one of its customers, the CIO of UMass Memorial Health Care, the Chief Information Officer in our 2013 Leadership Awards. Informatica has been continuing substantial investment in R&D. Its acquisitions of data-related software companies have helped it grow, and Informatica has invested to integrate the products with PowerCenter. With almost half (49%) of organizations planning to change their information availability processes, the opportunity for Informatica is significant; its challenge is to gain the confidence and recognition by business customers, who now play a larger role in the selection and purchasing of software. This will require Informatica to speak their language of business and not just technology but the business processes that they are held accountable. Informatica is a major player in information management; now it must become as significant a choice for streamlining business processes and use of applications and data across the enterprise and cloud computing to enable information optimization.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

At Oracle’s recent cloud computing analyst summit in sunny Palm Springs, the company’s executive team insisted that it sees clear skies for its efforts in cloud computing. The summit was led vr_BTI_importance_of_cloud_computingby senior executive Thomas Kurian, who runs the entire product organization and reports directly to CEO Larry Ellison. He affirmed that Oracle intends to offer the full range of cloud computing – public, private and hybrid models – to its customers and partners. As one of the world’s largest software suppliers Oracle has much at stake to make its database and all tools and applications available in these cloud environments, including managed cloud services. Our business technology innovation research shows this is a smart bet. Cloud computing is important or very important to 57 percent of organizations, and more than half (55%) of cloud users have been using it for more than a year. I noted in 2013 that simplifying IT and innovating in business are key to its software strategy, and Oracle’s efforts since then have executed on this outline.

Oracle has been developing a public cloud for some time, but in the last couple of years it sharpened its expertise and gained customers through acquisitions while refining its focus and investing in technology. Oracle now offers software as a service through its applications team covering HR, customer service, sales, marketing, ERP, finance, the supply chain and other areas. I recently assessed the Oracle HCM Cloud service, which provides a good example of what the company is doing and one that we awarded for 2013 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award.

Oracle is determined to provide infrastructure as a service and elastic computing services for storage, identity verification, messaging and networking. Here it is competing directly against Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others. Oracle also offers its platform as a service for using its database and tools in a variety of ways including the Web and mobile to collaborative methods. This strategy also includes analytics and big data. Our big data analytics research found 27 percent of organizations using cloud-based systems for this purpose, and it is gaining momentum as the preferred method of access: 22 percent prefer software as a service for big data analytics, 7 percent prefer a managed service, and 18 percent have no preference. Oracle is confident it can compete on price with other public cloud players. In addition its newest focus in the public cloud is information as a service, which brings corporate and public data together for business needs. Oracle is also strengthening its cloud computing marketplace so its software will be easy not only to access and purchase but also to onboard and use.

The private cloud computing area is somewhat different. CIOs need options to expand their compute power rapidly according to business needs; such a plan once had to be executed in the company’s data center, but now the cloud offers alternatives. In a more controlled manner than for the public cloud, Oracle provides the full life cycle of management through Oracle Enterprise Manager across its applications, platform, database and infrastructure, which can help most IT organizations simplify and reduce their focus on managing their infrastructure and enable them to focus on the value of the information and technology they provide for the business. Oracle offers multiple methods of deploying a private cloud: virtual machines for server consolidation, clustered databases for platform consolidation, and multitenant occupancy for database consolidation. Its private cloud platforms can provide a range of computing services to support applications and even enterprise deployments for use of mobile technology.

Oracle also offers a managed cloud service in which it builds and manages a private cloud environment similar to IT outsourcing except that Oracle owns the software being hosted. In this arrangement Oracle can provide in the cloud any of its applications, platform and infrastructure and can also connect to customers’ on-premises systems. Oracle says that more than 550 customers around the globe are using this service, processing 1.25 trillion business transactions per day; it stores more than 41 petabytes of data as well. In this offering Oracle competes directly with companies that have been offering this type of service in managed and outsourced approaches, including HP, Accenture and TCS. Oracle has been steadily building a strong position for its own outsourcing and managed approach to cloud computing.

These three cloud approaches have in common the Oracle database, running as a database as a service. Supporting it is the Oracle Fusion Middleware as a service that operates its business applications and is the basis to build custom applications by providing user, process, documents, information and identity services. Middleware is also where Oracle is advancing its support of mobile computing and big data as well as batch-to-real-time integration to applications and data across the enterprise and cloud along with Web services support through the REST and SOAP interfaces. Our research shows that integrating data from cloud applications is important to 80 percent of organizations. Oracle is releasing in the first part of 2014 more technology like Java, document and business intelligence as part of its Oracle Fusion Middleware as a service. Oracle has enlisted its Java technology to support the “as a service” concept to help move on-premises applications to the cloud but also to support application deployments. Oracle has worked to ensure its middleware can operate in the Microsoft Azure and Verizon Cloud services. Also part of middleware is the database as a service that is part of the Oracle cloud and of the compute service for elastic computing; it can be provisioned and used on a subscription or a usage basis; customers also can subscribe to backup as a service. Beneath the middleware and the database is the infrastructure as a service, which provides direct support for computing, storage, messaging, identity and notification services. Oracle supports integration of other cloud computing environments such as salesforce.com with its on-premises applications.

vr_ngbi_br_bi_deployment_preferences_updatedOracle also is expanding its presence in application-centric cloud deployments. For instance, its Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud service will be available in 2014; here it plans to provide a range of real-time and self-service analytics and integration of data from the cloud and on-premises systems. Oracle already has been supporting its own BI applications in the cloud, but this step will help it compete in a market where many options have been available for several years. Our next-generation BI research found a need for this in 2013, when 25 percent preferred software as a service for enterprise BI and nearly as many (22%) a hosted private cloud. It is even more important for mobile BI: 26 prefer cloud deployment, 30 percent chose hosted by supplier, and 36 percent had no preference; only 9 percent prefer on-premises for mobile BI. For another example, the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is now available, based on its Hyperion Planning software. In BI and planning in the cloud Oracle definitely is not first to market and indeed will have to catch up to build a brand and trust with customers in these areas.

Given its size, Oracle is uniquely positioned with server, database, vr_BTI_BR_top_benefits_of_cloud_computingplatform, tools and applications all operating in the cloud in public and private approaches and as a managed service. Only IBM is close to providing such an extensive software and technology stack. The competitive edge of preintegrating the entire stack in the cloud is a great position from which to grow its business. Our business technology innovation research finds that cloud computing has improved the availability of applications and information for business; one-third (34%) of organizations said it has improved availability significantly. In addition the research found that cloud computing has lowered costs, improved the efficiency of business processes, boosted communications and knowledge sharing, and increased productivity for more than one-third of organizations. The skies look clear and not cloudy for Oracle, which will be delivering more cloud computing on a very aggressive schedule throughout 2014 and 2015. If you are transitioning to or evaluating cloud computing in any manner, from infrastructure and platform to tools and business applications, Oracle is a provider you can’t ignore.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

Ventana Research

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