Today the Informatica Cloud Fall 2010 release was announced , with a strong focus on trust. Along with new capabilities, we announced the launch of a website that provides greater transparency into system status and performance as well as security policies and certifications. I invite you to visit http://trust.informaticacloud.com. Speaking of trust, it’s a topic that came up a great deal in my discussion last week with Eric Johnson . As I mentioned in my last post, Eric is senior director of enterprise applications at Informatica. Here is the interview.
Why is trust so important to when it comes to the cloud?
To me, it’s not that different than any vendor I work with, but when it comes to moving your business data to a cloud-based solution, it’s even more critical that you trust the vendor you’re working with. We always evaluate:
- The financial viability of the vendor.
- The vendor’s support model – if it’s a mission-critical process, 24/7 is a must.
- The vendor’s track record of success – I don’t want to be a guinea pig.
- The vendor’s track-record of innovation – how is the solution evolving?
What is Informatica’s software-as-as-service (SaaS) application strategy?
During the last three years, Informatica’s default position to modernizing our enterprise application infrastructure has been to look for cloud-based solutions first. We started in a few areas where we felt the company could get quick wins and immediate value – expense reporting and commissions, for example. In both cases we were replacing homegrown, Excel-based approaches and it was a great way to test the viability of the SaaS model. Our goal was to be progressive, but not bleeding edge. We wanted to stay close to where technology is going, but not put mission-critical systems at risk.
How has this strategy evolved?
Three years ago 25 percent of our business applications were cloud-based. With our recent global implementation of salesforce.com, today we’re closer to 50 percent. With all of the surrounding AppExchange solutions now available to us, our objective is to be primarily cloud-based if there is a viable enterprise application that can meet our objectives.
How have SaaS applications and platforms evolved in general?
While there’s still quite a bit of immaturity in the market, the major SaaS application and platform providers have definitely gotten better at understanding the foundation of operational management. Scalability, performance, high availability – my feeling is that the more established vendors now understand what it takes to keep subscription-based customers happy. salesforce.com is obviously the best example. The Force.com platform gives us the ability to scale out quickly and add complementary solutions via the AppExchange. Many of our SaaS applications that used to run independently can now be integrated into a common platform to deliver greater value across the business.
Speaking of integration, what are some best practices you can share?
I’ve been managing packaged solutions for 15 years and the data is always underestimated. Data quality, data migration and data integration have to be a top priority. You can have the most fantastic application in the world but if the data is bad it’s not going to be useful. Garbage in, garbage out. Before you invest in any application, whether it’s cloud-based or on premises, spend time upfront to determine:
- Where’s the data?
- What does the data look like?
- Where does the data need to go?
- Can we profile the data?
- How are we going to keep the data clean and ensure it’s valuable?
Any time I hear someone say they need to “re-key in the data,” I know that not enough time has been spent addressing the data integration challenge.
Thanks Eric! Definitely some great insights.