Category Archives: Cloud
Last week was Informatica’s first ever Data Mania event, held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. We had an A-list lineup of speakers from leading cloud and data companies, such as Salesforce, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Tableau, Dun & Bradstreet, Marketo, AppDynamics, Birst, Adobe, and Qlik. The event and speakers covered a range of topics all related to data, including Big Data processing in the cloud, data-driven customer success, and cloud analytics.
While these companies are giants today in the world of cloud and have created their own unique ecosystems, we also wanted to take a peek at and hear from the leaders of tomorrow. Before startups can become market leaders in their own realm, they face the challenge of ramping up a stellar roster of customers so that they can get to subsequent rounds of venture funding. But what gets in their way are the numerous data integration challenges of onboarding customer data onto their software platform. When these challenges remain unaddressed, R&D resources are spent on professional services instead of building value-differentiating IP. Bugs also continue to mount, and technical debt increases.
Enter the Informatica Cloud Connector SDK. Built entirely in Java and able to browse through any cloud application’s API, the Cloud Connector SDK parses the metadata behind each data object and presents it in the context of what a business user should see. We had four startups build a native connector to their application in less than two weeks: BigML, Databricks, FollowAnalytics, and ThoughtSpot. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
With predictive analytics becoming a growing imperative, machine-learning algorithms that can have a higher probability of prediction are also becoming increasingly important. BigML provides an intuitive yet powerful machine-learning platform for actionable and consumable predictive analytics. Watch their demo on how they used Informatica Cloud’s Connector SDK to help them better predict customer churn.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/lop7m9IH2aw
Databricks was founded out of the UC Berkeley AMPLab by the creators of Apache Spark. Databricks Cloud is a hosted end-to-end data platform powered by Spark. It enables organizations to unlock the value of their data, seamlessly transitioning from data ingest through exploration and production. Watch their demo that showcases how the Informatica Cloud connector for Databricks Cloud was used to analyze lead contact rates in Salesforce, and also performing machine learning on a dataset built using either Scala or Python.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/607ugvhzVnY
With mobile usage growing by leaps and bounds, the area of customer engagement on a mobile app has become a fertile area for marketers. Marketers are charged with acquiring new customers, increasing customer loyalty and driving new revenue streams. But without the technological infrastructure to back them up, their efforts are in vain. FollowAnalytics is a mobile analytics and marketing automation platform for the enterprise that helps companies better understand audience engagement on their mobile apps. Watch this demo where FollowAnalytics first builds a completely native connector to its mobile analytics platform using the Informatica Cloud Connector SDK and then connects it to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online using Informatica Cloud’s prebuilt connector for it. Then, see FollowAnalytics go one step further by performing even deeper analytics on their engagement data using Informatica Cloud’s prebuilt connector for Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/E568vxZ2LAg
Analytics has taken center stage this year due to the rise in cloud applications, but most of the existing BI tools out there still stick to the old way of doing BI. ThoughtSpot brings a consumer-like simplicity to the world of BI by allowing users to search for the information they’re looking for just as if they were using a search engine like Google. Watch this demo where ThoughtSpot uses Informatica Cloud’s vast library of over 100 native connectors to move data into the ThoughtSpot appliance.
Can’t play the video? Click here, http://youtu.be/6gJD6hRD9h4
Who remembers their first game of Pong? Celebrating more than 40 years of innovation, gaming is no longer limited to monochromatic screens and dedicated, proprietary platforms. The PC gaming industry is expected to exceed $35bn by 2018. Phone and handheld games is estimated at $34bn in 5 years and quickly closing the gap. According to EEDAR, 2014 recorded more than 141 million mobile gamers just in North America, generating $4.6B in revenue for mobile game vendors.
This growth has spawned a growing list of conferences specifically targeting gamers, game developers, the gaming industry and more recently gaming analytics! This past weekend in Boston, for example, was PAX East where people of all ages and walks of life played games on consoles, PC, handhelds, and good old fashioned board games. With my own children in attendance, the debate of commercial games versus indie favorites, such as Minecraft , dominates the dinner table.
Online games are where people congregate online, collaborate, and generate petabytes of data daily. With the added bonus of geospatial data from smart phones, the opportunity for more advanced analytics. Some of the basic metrics that determine whether a game is successful, according to Ninja Metrics, include:
- New Users, Daily Active Users, Retention
- Revenue per user
- Session length and number of sessions per user
Additionally, they provide predictive analytics, customer lifetime value, and cohort analysis. If this is your gig, there’s a conference for that as well – the Gaming Analytics Summit !
At the Game Developers Conference recently held in San Francisco, the focus of this event has shifted over the years from computer games to new gaming platforms that need to incorporate mobile, smartphone, and online components. In order to produce a successful game, it requires the following:
- Needs to be able to connect to a variety of devices and platforms
- Needs to use data to drive decisions and improve user experience
- Needs to ensure privacy laws are adhered to.
Developers are able to quickly access online gaming data and tweak or change their sprites’ attributes dynamically to maximize player experience.
When you look at what is happening in the gaming industry, you can start to see why colleges and universities like my own alma mater, WPI, now offers a computer science degree in Interactive Media and Game Design degree . The IMGD curriculum includes heavy coursework in data science, game theory, artificial intelligence and story boarding. When I asked a WPI IMGD student about what they are working on, they are mapping out decision trees that dictate what adversary to pop up based on the player’s history (sounds a lot like what we do in digital marketing…).
As we start to look at the Millennial Generation entering into the workforce, maybe we should look at our own recruiting efforts and consider game designers. They are masters in analytics and creativity with an appreciation for the importance of great data. Combining the magic and the math makes a great gaming experience. Who wouldn’t want that for their customers?
Informatica, over the last two years, successfully transformed from running 80% of its application portfolio on premises to 80% in the cloud. Success was based on two key criteria:
- Ensuring the SaaS-based processes are integrated with no disruption
- Data in the cloud continues to be available and accessible for analytics
With industry analysts predicting that the majority of new application deployments will be SaaS-based by 2017, the requirement of having connected data should not be negotiable. It is a must have. Most SaaS applications ensure businesses are able to keep processes integrated using connected and shared data through application programming interfaces (APIs).
If you are a consumer of SaaS applications, you probably know the importance of having clean, connected and secure data from the cloud. The promise of SaaS is improved agility. When data is not easily accessible, that promise is broken. With the plethora of options available in the SaaS ecosystem and marketplace, not having clean, connected and safe data is a compelling event for switching SaaS vendors.
If you are in the SaaS application development industry, you probably know that building these APIs and connectors is a critical requirement for success. However, how do you decide which applications you should build connectors for when the ecosystem keeps changing? Investment in developing connectors and interfaces consumes resources and competes with developing competitive and differentiating features.
This week, Informatica launched its inaugural DataMania event in San Francisco where the leading topic was SaaS application and data integration. Speakers from AWS, Adobe, App Dynamics, Dun & Bradstreet, and Marketo – to name a few – contributed to the discussion and confirmed that we entering into the era of the Data Ready Enterprise. Also during the event, Informatica announced the Connect-a-thon, a hackathon-like event, where SaaS vendors can get connected to hundreds of cloud and on-premises apps.
Without a doubt, transitioning to a cloud and SaaS-based application architecture can only be successful if the applications are easily connectable with shared data. Here at Informatica, this was absolutely the case. Whether you are in the business or a consumer of SaaS applications, consider the benefits of using a standard library of connectors, such as what Informatica Cloud offers so you can focus your time and energy on innovation and more strategic parts of your business.
Informatica joins new ServiceMax Marketplace – offers rapid, cost effective integration with ERP and Cloud apps for Field Service Automation
To deliver flawless field service, companies often require integration across multiple applications for various work processes. A good example is automatically ordering and shipping parts through an ERP system to arrive ahead of a timely field service visit. Informatica has partnered with ServiceMax, the leading field service automation solution, and subsequently joined the new ServiceMax Marketplace to offer customers integration solutions for many ERP and Cloud applications frequently involved in ServiceMax deployments. Comprised of Cloud Integration Templates built on Informatica Cloud for frequent customer integration “patterns”, these solutions will speed and cost contain the ServiceMax implementation cycle and help customers realize the full potential of their field service initiatives.
Existing members of the ServiceMax Community can see a demo or take advantage of a free 30-day trial that provides full capabilities of Informatica Cloud Integration for ServiceMax with prebuilt connectors to hundreds of 3rd party systems including SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Netsuite and Workday, powered by the Informatica Vibe virtual data machine for near-universal access to cloud and on-premise data. The Informatica Cloud Integration for Servicemax solution:
- Accelerates ERP integration through prebuilt Cloud templates focused on key work processes and the objects on common between systems as much as 85%
- Synchronizes key master data such as Customer Master, Material Master, Sales Orders, Plant information, Stock history and others
- Enables simplified implementation and customization through easy to use user interfaces
- Eliminates the need for IT intervention during configuration and deployment of ServiceMax integrations.
We look forward to working with ServiceMax through the ServiceMax Marketplace to help joint customers deliver Flawless Service!
With Informatica’s Data Mania on Wednesday, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about REST APIs. In particular, I’ve been considering how and why they’ve become so ubiquitous, especially for SaaS companies. Today they are the prerequisite for any company looking to connect with other ecosystems, accelerate adoption and, ultimately, separate themselves from the pack.
Let’s unpack why.
To trace the rise of the REST API, we’ll first need to take a look at the SOAP web services protocol that preceded it. SOAP is still very much in play and remains important to many application integration scenarios. But it doesn’t receive much use or love from the thousands of SaaS applications that just want to get or place data with one another or in one of the large SaaS ecosystems like Salesforce.
Why this is the case has more to do with needs and demands of a SaaS business than it does with the capabilities of SOAP web services. SOAP, as it turns out, is perfectly fine for making and receiving web service calls, but it does require work on behalf of both the calling application and the producing application. And therein lies the rub.
SOAP web service calls are by their very nature incredibly structured arrangements, with specifications that must be clearly defined by both parties. Only after both the calling and producing application have their frameworks in place can the call be validated. While the contract within SOAP WSDLs makes SOAP more robust, it also makes it too rigid, and less adaptable to change. But today’s apps need a more agile and more loosely defined API framework that requires less work to consume and can adapt to the inevitable and frequent changes demanded by cloud applications.
Enter REST APIs
REST APIs are the perfect vehicle for today’s SaaS businesses and mash-up applications. Sure, they’re more loosely defined than SOAP, but when all you want to do is get and receive some data, now, in the context you need, nothing is easier or better for the job than a REST API.
With a REST API, the calls are mostly done as HTTP with some loose structure and don’t require a lot of mechanics from the calling application, or effort on behalf of the producing application.
SaaS businesses prefer REST APIs because they are easy to consume. They also make it easy to onboard new customers and extend the use of the platform to other applications. The latter is important because it is primarily through integration that SaaS applications get to become part of an enterprise business process and gain the stickiness needed to accelerate adoption and growth.
Without APIs of any sort, integration can only be done through manual data movement, which opens the application and enterprise up to the potential errors caused by fat-finger data movement. That typically will give you the opposite result of stickiness, and is to be avoided at all costs.
While publishing an API as a way to get and receive data from other applications is a great start, it is just a means to an end. If you’re a SaaS business with greater ambitions, you may want to consider taking the next step of building native connectors to other apps using an integration system such as Informatica Cloud. A connector can provide a nice layer of abstraction on the APIs so that the data can be accessed as application data objects within business processes. Clearly, stickiness with any SaaS application improves in direct proportion to the number of business processes or other applications that it is integrated with.
The Informatica Cloud Connector SDK is Java-based and enables you easily to cut and paste the code necessary to create the connectors. Informatica Cloud’s SDKs are also richer and make it possible for you to adapt the REST API to something any business user will want to use – which is a huge advantage.
In addition to making your app stickier, native connectors have the added benefit of increasing your portability. Without this layer of abstraction, direct interaction with a REST API that’s been structurally changed would be impossible without also changing the data flows that depend on it. Building a native connector makes you more agile, and inoculates your custom built integration from breaking.
Building your connectors with Informatica Cloud also provides you with some other advantages. One of the most important is entrance to a community that includes all of the major cloud ecosystems and the thousands of business apps that orbit them. As a participant, you’ll become part of an interconnected web of applications that make up the business processes for the enterprises that use them.
Another ancillary benefit is access to integration templates that you can easily customize to connect with any number of known applications. The templates abstract the complexity from complicated integrations, can be quickly customized with just a few composition screens, and are easily invoked using Informatica Cloud’s APIs.
The best part of all this is that you can use Informatica Cloud’s integration technology to become a part of any business process without stepping outside of your application.
For those interested in continuing the conversation and learning more about how leading SaaS businesses are using REST API’s and native connectors to separate themselves, I invite you to join me at Data Mania, March 4th in San Francisco. Hope to see you there.
Informatica’s Redshift connector is a state-of-the-art Bulk-Load type connector which allows users to perform all CRUD operations on Amazon Redshift. It makes use of AWS best practices to load data at high throughput in a safe and secure manner and is available on Informatica Cloud and PowerCenter.
Today we are excited to announce the support of Amazon’s newly launched custom JDBC and ODBC drivers for Redshift. Both the drivers are certified for Linux and Windows environments.
Informatica’s Redshift connector will package the JDBC 4.1 driver which further enhances our meta-data fetch capabilities for tables and views in Redshift. That improves our overall design-time responsiveness by over 25%. It also allows us to query multiple tables/views and retrieve the result-set using primary and foreign key relationships.
Amazon’s ODBC driver enhances our FULL Push Down Optimization capabilities on Redshift. Some of the key differentiating factors are support for the SYSDATE variable, functions such as ADD_TO_DATE(), ASCII(), CONCAT(), LENGTH(), TO_DATE(), VARIANCE() etc. which weren’t possible before.
Amazon’s ODBC driver is not pre-packaged but can be directly downloaded from Amazon’s S3 store.
Once installed, the user can change the default ODBC System DSN in ODBC Data Source Administrator.
After a careful review by Informatica, the recent Ghost buffer overflow vulnerability (CVE-2015-0235) does not require any Informatica patches for our on-premise products. All Informatica cloud-hosted services were patched by Jan 30.
What you need to know
Ghost is a buffer overflow vulnerability found in glibc (GNU C Library), most commonly found on Linux systems. All distributions of Linux are potentially affected. The most common attack vectors involve Linux servers that are hosting web apps, email servers, and other such services that accept requests over the open Internet; hackers can embed malicious code therein. Fixed versions of glibc are now already available from their respective Linux vendors, including:
- Red Hat: https://access.redhat.com/articles/1332213
What you need to do
Because many of our products link to glibc.zip, we recommend customers apply the appropriate OS patch from their Linux vendor. After applying this OS patch, customers should restart Informatica services running on that machine to ensure our software is linking to the up-to-date glibc library. To ensure all other resources on a system are patched, a full system reboot may also be necessary.
Bill Burns, VP & Chief Information Security Officer
Strata 2015 – Making Data Work for Everyone with Cloud Integration, Cloud Data Management and Cloud Machine Learning
Are you ready to answer “Yes” to the questions:
a) “Are you Cloud Ready?”
b) “Are you Machine Learning Ready?”
I meet with hundreds of Informatica Cloud customers and prospects every year. While they are investing in Cloud, and seeing the benefits, they also know that there is more innovation out there. They’re asking me, what’s next for Cloud? And specifically, what’s next for Informatica in regards to Cloud Data Integration and Cloud Data Management? I’ll share more about my response throughout this blog post.
The spotlight will be on Big Data and Cloud at the Strata + Hadoop World conference taking place in Silicon Valley from February 17-20 with the theme “Make Data Work”. I want to focus this blog post on two topics related to making data work and business insights:
- How existing cloud technologies, innovations and partnerships can help you get ready for the new era in cloud analytics.
- How you can make data work in new and advanced ways for every user in your company.
Today, Informatica is announcing the availability of its Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Microsoft Azure and Linux Virtual Machines as well as an Informatica Cloud Connector for Microsoft Azure Storage. Users of Azure data services such as Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning and Azure Data Factory can make their data work with access to the broadest set of data sources including on-premises applications, databases, cloud applications and social data. Read more from Microsoft about their news at Strata, including their relationship with Informatica, here.
“Informatica, a leader in data integration, provides a key solution with its Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Azure,” said Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President, Machine Learning, Microsoft. “Today’s companies are looking to gain a competitive advantage by deriving key business insights from their largest and most complex data sets. With this collaboration, Microsoft Azure and Informatica Cloud provide a comprehensive portfolio of data services that deliver a broad set of advanced cloud analytics use cases for businesses in every industry.”
Even more exciting is how quickly any user can deploy a broad spectrum of data services for cloud analytics projects. The fully-managed cloud service for building predictive analytics solutions from Azure and the wizard-based, self-service cloud integration and data management user experience of Informatica Cloud helps overcome the challenges most users have in making their data work effectively and efficiently for analytics use cases.
The new solution enables companies to bring in data from multiple sources for use in Azure data services including Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory and others – for advanced analytics.
The broad availability of Azure data services, and Azure Machine Learning in particular, is a game changer for startups and large enterprises. Startups can now access cloud-based advanced analytics with minimal cost and complexity and large businesses can use scalable cloud analytics and machine learning models to generate faster and more accurate insights from their Big Data sources.
Success in using machine learning requires not only great analytics models, but also an end-to-end cloud integration and data management capability that brings in a wide breadth of data sources, ensures that data quality and data views match the requirements for machine learning modeling, and an ease of use that facilitates speed of iteration while providing high-performance and scalable data processing.
For example, the Informatica Cloud solution on Azure is designed to deliver on these critical requirements in a complementary approach and support advanced analytics and machine learning use cases that provide customers with key business insights from their largest and most complex data sets.
Using the Informatica Cloud solution on Azure connector with Informatica Cloud Data Integration enables optimized read-write capabilities for data to blobs in Azure Storage. Customers can use Azure Storage objects as sources, lookups, and targets in data synchronization tasks and advanced mapping configuration tasks for efficient data management using Informatica’s industry leading cloud integration solution.
As Informatica fulfills the promise of “making great data ready to use” to our 5,500 customers globally, we continue to form strategic partnerships and develop next-generation solutions to stay one step ahead of the market with our Cloud offerings.
My goal in 2015 is to help each of our customers say that they are Cloud Ready! And collaborating with solutions such as Azure ensures that our joint customers are also Machine Learning Ready!
To learn more, try our free Informatica Cloud trial for Microsoft Azure data services.
It’s no secret that the explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps has revolutionized the way businesses operate. From humble beginnings, the titans of SaaS today include companies such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Marketo, and Workday that have gone public and attained multi-billion dollar valuations. The success of these SaaS leaders has had a domino effect in adjacent areas of the cloud – infrastructure, databases, and analytics.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), which originally had only six services in 2006 with the launch of Amazon EC2, now has over 30 ranging from storage, relational databases, data warehousing, Big Data, and more. Salesforce.com’s Wave platform, Tableau Software, and Qlik have made great advances in the cloud analytics arena, to give better visibility to line-of-business users. And as SaaS applications embrace new software design paradigms that extend their functionality, application performance monitoring (APM) analytics has emerged as a specialized field from vendors such as New Relic and AppDynamics.
So, how exactly did the growth of SaaS contribute to these adjacent sectors taking off?
The growth of SaaS coincided with the growth of powerful smartphones and tablets. Seeing this form factor as important to the end user, SaaS companies rushed to produce mobile apps that offered core functionality on their mobile device. Measuring adoption of these mobile apps was necessary to ensure that future releases met all the needs of the end user. Mobile apps contain a ton of information such as app responsiveness, features utilized, and data consumed. As always, there were several types of users, with some preferring a laptop form factor over a smartphone or tablet. With the ever increasing number of data points to measure within a SaaS app, the area of application performance monitoring analytics really took off.
Simultaneously, the growth of the SaaS titans cemented their reputation as not just applications for a certain line-of-business, but into full-fledged platforms. This growth emboldened a number of SaaS startups to develop apps that solved specialized or even vertical business problems in healthcare, warranty-and-repair, quote-to-cash, and banking. To get started quickly and scale rapidly, these startups leveraged AWS and its plethora of services.
The final sector that has taken off thanks to the growth of SaaS is the area of cloud analytics. SaaS grew by leaps and bounds because of its ease of use, and rapid deployment that could be achieved by business users. Cloud analytics aims to provide the same ease of use for business users when providing deep insights into data in an interactive manner.
In all these different sectors, what’s common is the fact that SaaS growth has created an uptick in the volume of data and the technologies that serve to make it easier to understand. During Informatica’s Data Mania event (March 4th, San Francisco) you’ll find several esteemed executives from Salesforce, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, Dun & Bradstreet, Qlik, Marketo, and AppDynamics talk about the importance of data in the world of SaaS.
If you work for or with the government and you care about the cloud, you’ve probably already read the recent MeriTalk report, “Cloud Without the Commitment”. As well, you’ve probably also read numerous opinions about the report. In fact, one of Informatica’s guest bloggers, David Linthicum, just posted his thoughts. As I read the report and the various opinions, I was struck by the seemingly, perhaps, unintentional suggestion that (sticking with MeriTalk’s dating metaphor) the “commitment issues” are a government problem. Mr. Linthicum’s perspective is “there is really no excuse for the government to delay migration to cloud-based platforms” and “It’s time to see some more progress”, suggesting that the onus in on government to move forward.
I do agree that, leveraged properly, there’s much more value to be extracted from the cloud by government. Further, I agree that cloud technologies have sufficiently matured to the point that it is feasible to consider migrating mission critical applications. Yet, is it possible that the government’s “fear of commitment” is, in some ways, justified?
Consider this stat from the MeriTalk report – only half (53%) of the respondents rate their experience with the cloud as very successful. That suggests the experience of the other half, as MeriTalk words it, “leave(s) something to be desired.” If I’m a government decision maker and I’m tasked with keeping mission critical systems up and sensitive data safe, am I going to jump at the opportunity to leverage an approach that only half of my peers are satisfied with? Maybe, maybe not.
Now factor this in:
- 53% are concerned about being locked into a contract where the average term is 3.6 years
- 58% believe cloud providers do not provide standardized services, thus creating lock in
Back to playing government decision maker, if I do opt to move applications to the cloud, once I get there, I’m bound to that particular provider – contractually and, at least to some extent, technologically. How comfortable am I with the notion of rewriting/rehosting my mission-critical, custom application to run in XYZ cloud? Good question, right?
Inevitably, government agencies will end up with mission-critical systems and sensitive data in the cloud, however, successful “marriages” are hard, making them a bit of a rare commodity
Do I believe government has a “fear of commitment”? Nah, I just see their behavior as prudent caution on their way to the altar.