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Informatica Focuses on Data Value, Unification

Informatica has unveiled version 8.6 of its eponymous flagship data integration package at Informatica World 2008 in Las Vegas.

This is a comprehensive, unified platform for data integration, which lets enterprises squeeze the maximum value out of their data by accessing, transforming, integrating and cleansing all their data so it can be trusted.

It has four components: PowerCenter RealTime Edition for real-time data integration, On-Demand Data Loader for integrating data from Salesforce.com with on-premise data, B2B Data Exchange for data transformation and exchange; and Proactive Data Quality with Identity Resolution to enable searching, matching and resolution of identities across multiple systems and in more than 60 languages.

The last is a result of Informatica's acquisition of Identity Systems from Nokia (NYSE: NOK) for about $85 million in cash earlier this month.

All four are available in software as a service (SaaS) form.

The platform will help enterprises ensure they remain in compliance, improve their global competitiveness and help them "use IT infrastructure more effectively to do more with less," Ash Kulkarni, Informatica's senior director of product management and marketing, told InternetNews.com.

Informatica 8.6 uses a common metadata structure that "lets us leverage all the different components or platforms seamlessly," Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni explained that 80 to 85 percent of data are in unstructured forms such as spreadsheets or Word documents, and the cloud holds a lot of data from Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), ADP (NYSE: ADP) for payroll or Hewitt Associates (NYSE: HEW) for human resources information -- or with trading partners in their supply chain," Kulkarni explained. "All that data needs to be brought together for you to get meaning."

Informatica 8.6 lets users see what source systems their data came from when they're building a report. That end-to-end view of the data's lineage can be extended across the corporate firewall by using the B2B Data Exchange, Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni said coding is unnecessary with Informatica 8.6 because it's all graphical. "That gives you a quick time to market whether you're doing data integration or cleansing or trading with your partners," he added.

Informatica 8.6's particularly interesting feature is enhanced data cleansing, according to David Inbar, director of worldwide marketing for integration products at Pervasive Software, a relatively small data integration vendor targeting small and medium-size businesses and departments of enterprises.

"We, among other vendors have been talking about and delivering a unified platform for tackling integration across the enterprise for a number of years," Inbar told InternetNews.com.

Informatica 8.6 is not a single unified platform but "a series of different products they put together," Inbar added. "We offer a single unified platform; you buy Pervasive Data Integrator from us and get 150 adapters out of the box."

Pervasive, too, can also integrate unstructured data. The company has been in the on-demand space for years and has more than 500 Salesforce customers using its software.

It also has a lightweight footprint that makes it better for offering in SaaS mode because it does not have an underlying database, Inbar said.

Ted Friedman, vice president of research with Gartner's (NYSE: IT) information management team, believes Informatica is targeting new uses of its technology, and bringing together data integration, data movement and data quality in a single platform to fend off the competition.

That's important because larger competitors such as IBM (NYSE: IBM), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) are looming on the horizon, he told InternetNews.com.

"These companies are all of massively greater size and scale and have much greater resources, and Informatica has to out-innovate them, or aim at places they're not, or quickly improve its capability so it can go head to head with them," Friedman said.

The last isn't really an option, and Informatica, like other smaller data quality vendors might become a target for acquisition.

"One of the questions we keep getting from our clients is, when will Informatica get acquired," Friedman said. While Informatica is of "a pretty good size," it's not big enough to be immune to a takeover, he added.