Informatica Switches on Shared Services

With competition in the market for business integration software heating up, Informatica Thursday unveiled a services architecture for helping enterprises manage data interaction between applications, systems and people.

The Universal Data Services (UDS) architecture, which some analysts described as a form of Web services , helps users access, integrate and audit information. Data services access data from a database, integrate that data, combing it from several sources, and distribute it.

The UDS architecture facilitates shared data services to address existing and emerging business problems that may crop up on an ad-hoc basis. In practicality, this type of software system is valuable at a time when an audit trail of data integratation is needed for meeting compliance

Though many of the data services are already present in Informatica’s portfolio, the company is retuning existing products to react and respond on a real-time, or at least on-demand, basis.

UDS provides a single data server that includes foundation services for data interaction, including performance, scalability, availability, metadata management, optimization, security, scheduling and workflow.

Analysts approved of Informatica’s vision in the early going.

Enterprise Applications Group Principal Analyst Joshua Greenbaum said enterprises have scattered a tremendous amount of projects related to data, including integration, consolidation and transformation. This is terribly inefficient, he said.

“If you look around, most big enterprises are doing ad-hoc application integration all over the place,” Greenbaum told “They’re not using a central architecture [like shared services propose] and they’re getting a lot of inefficiencies. With shared data services,
Informatica is saying ‘let’s rationalize this by putting together all of the different data related projects and make a lot of that available in a Web service definition’,” Greenbaum said.

According to Forrester Research Director Phil Russom, Ph.D., Forrester looks at shared data services as Web services that access or integrate data.

Part of the true value in offerings like UDS is that its high level of integration will cut out the time-consuming process of recoding, cutting production costs along the way and providing services on demand, Russom said.

With shared data services, “If you’ve created an integration solution with one vendor’s product, you can reuse it in other concepts,” Russom said, noting that business can lower payroll by cutting out custom coding. “More and more apps can actually interoperate with a data service.”

Russom told companies like Ascential Software, Avaki, Metamatrix and Metatomix could be considered competitors because they offer data access and integration and support some type of Web services in their portfolio. For example, Ascential makes a product called DataStage that aims to provide real-time services integration.

But Russom said UDS stands out for its ease-of-use, offering options to turn objects into Web services by clicking on a check box in the UDS GUI .

UDS will underpin Informatica’s technologies, products and services going forward, according to a company spokesperson. Moreover, third-party companies and customers will be able to create their own shared services to plug into the architecture and use Informatica’s data server. Or, they may embed the data server in their offerings.

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