One of the great things about the business intelligence industry is the fact that the market is in a constant state of change with the goal of helping organizations use technology to take advantage of the vast amounts of information available for analysis. The way in which data is handled has changed from traditional ETL jobs and data warehouse storage that required batch processes to deliver results, towards more real-time and ad-hoc interactive capabilities. As we've seen, the market is now able to handle large and complex data sets from a wider variety of sources that include social media and unstructured sources. The addition of cloud also makes it easier to to develop alternate frameworks external to the firewall.
All of these changes, as well as the countless other trends within the marketplace beg the question - what about data integration? After all, it is fine to load data and use ETL to transform data, but what about the complications of gaining valuable insights out of data in a constantly shifting world that demands up to date information that can be acted upon immediately? How can data be securely and successfully placed in the cloud? How will unstructured data sources be supported as social networking becomes a more prominent way of identifying customer sentiment and business opportunities? These questions are a subset of what organizations are asking themselves as they try to adopt technologies that will help them stay ahead of their competitors.
Although many vendors are meeting these newer challenges head on, since Informatica 9.5
was released earlier this week, it makes sense to take a closer look at how they are handling the changing data landscape. Informatica has always provided a wide range of data integration solutions. Their 9.5 release actually ties in the aspects mentioned above - such as cloud, big data, social media, etc.- to provide organizations with all of the pieces they require to develop a data infrastructure that addresses all of the key aspects of BI related trends. For instance, Informatica 9.5 provides:
- Embeddable cloud service that sends data where it is required through the use of a hybrid IT platform, leaving control for information in the hands of the organization
- Support for big data through broader data virtualization and replication, as well as partition to use resources more effectively
- The use of Natural Language Processing to analyze social data from sources that are becoming more relevant to organizations, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, social networks, etc.
- The ability to stream data and support real-time events through CEP (Complex Event Processing) to provide alerts and notifications to be able to act upon important issues that arise
- Interoperability with Hadoop to support big data processing
All of these areas are becoming increasingly important to organizations. What interests me most aside from the ability to access a large stack of offerings that cover the key aspects required for a strong data integration platform, is the additional focus on data stewardship and ensuring that the full data integration process is governed effectively to ensure that data quality or other issues that arise can be dealt with in an effective manner by data owners.
Most organizations want to focus on dashboards and getting the insights they require. In some cases, this occurs at the expense of strong data management. The reality, though, is that to gain an understanding of what is happening within the realm of Facebook or on Twitter, or to access relevant information through Hadoop, a strong set of data integration processes are required. Consequently, Informatica seems to be focusing their efforts on the areas that will most matter to businesses to maintain competitive edge within the marketplace today.