Businesses continually need to improve their abilities to utilize data generated by their activities and interactions. Retrieving, cleaning and sharing data are ongoing processes, and along with data within the enterprise, applications in cloud computing are becoming critical sources. Vital data about customers and even employees among many other types is distributed across the cloud and must be integrated with the rest of data in the enterprise for applying analytics to gain visibility into the entire business.
Information management software providers have begun to address this issue. I have written about how Informatica emphasizes the value of data for every organization and have assessed its rapidly growing support for cloud computing, particularly data integration capabilities in and out of the cloud (See: “The Sky is Bright for Informatica in Cloud Computing”). The company just presented the Summer 2010 release of Informatica Cloud, which handles integration tasks to support specific cloud-based application providers and data standards across the Internet. The Informatica Cloud Integration Exchange allows users to apply data plug-ins that can facilitate integration processes. These plugs or what Informatica calls plug-ins perform general activities such as address-cleansing but also offer business-to-business (B2B) data transformation by supporting the SWIFT and EDI formats in both cloud and enterprise environments.
Informatica also provides plug-ins tailored for account-level synchronization of products from Microsoft, salesforce.com, SAP and others. In this release, custom SQL code can be a customer source; this is required for many cloud-based applications that otherwise might allow access only at the database level without access to business logic. As well it allows data synchronization transformations to be done more easily where cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-enterprise or enterprise-to-cloud transactions have to be kept in sync as they occur or in nightly batch processes. Most important is that this exchange will provide a place for customers, partners and Informatica to provide methods to reduce time to integration and other key data related tasks.
I and many others have written about the importance of integration and migration of data, but it’s also worth noting that data quality becomes even more complex when data is created and stored outside of the enterprise. Therefore it is important to be able to perform activities like de-duping, matching, standardization and correction to ensure validation. Also, the complexity of information security between cloud and enterprise should not be underestimated; Informatica addresses this not only through VeriSign 128-bit SSL certification V3 but also SAS 70 Type 2 certification. Organizations should realize how much of their enterprise data is now in the cloud, examine risk points and institute appropriate governance policies and procedures. Our benchmark research into data governance found that 32 percent of organizations intend by the end of 2011 to have put in place governance for data in cloud computing.
Informatica is making significant headway with Informatica Cloud; it says that more than 650 companies are using its integration service to run over 30,000 integration jobs per day. Now that Cast Iron Systems is being bought by IBM, as I recently assessed, it is not clear if it will continue efforts for integration of cloud-based data; if not, that would leave Boomi, iWay Software (which I assessed recently), Pervasive and Jitterbit (which I assessed recently) as smaller competitors that have products and customers operating in the cloud computing environment. Large players like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have yet to show clarity in their strategies and products for data integration across public cloud computing applications and tools. Meanwhile, Informatica has stepped in with its data plug-ins and additional third party software vendor partnerships that will reduce the cost, time and risk of doing integration-related data activities. I like the company’s energetic approach and product direction in making cloud computing more seamless and secure than it is today.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research