Category Archives: Cloud Data Integration
An increasing number of companies around the world moving to cloud-first or hybrid architectures for new systems to process their data for new analytics applications. In addition to adding new data source from SaaS (Software as a Service) applications to their data pipelines, they are hosting some or all of their data storage, processing and analytics in IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) public hosted environments to augment on-premise systems. In order to enable our customers to take advantage of the benefits of IaaS options, Informatica is embracing this computing model.
As announced today, Informatica now fully supports running the traditionally on-premise Informatica PowerCenter, Big Data Edition (BDE), Data Quality and Data Exchange on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute (EC2). This provides customers with added flexibility, agility and time-to-production by enabling a new deployment option for running Informatica software.
Existing and new Informatica customers can now choose to develop and/or deploy data integration, quality and data exchange in AWS EC2 just as they would on on-premise servers. There is no need for any special licensing as Informatica’s standard product licensing now covers deployment on AWS EC2 on the same operating systems as on-premise. BDE on AWS EC2 supports the same versions of Cloudera and Hortonworks Hadoop that are supported on-premise.
Customers can install these Informatica products on AWS EC2 instances just as they would on servers running on an on-premise infrastructure. The same award winning Informatica Global Customer Service that thousands of Informatica customers use is now available on call and standing by to help with success on AWS EC2. Informatica Professional Services is also available to assist customers running these products on AWS EC2 as they are for on-premise system configurations.
Informatica customers can accelerate their time to production or experimentation with the added flexibility of installing Informatica products on AWS EC2 without having to wait for new servers to arrive. There is the flexibility to develop in the cloud and deploy production systems on-premise or develop on-premise and deploy production systems in AWS. Cloud-first companies can keep it all in the cloud by both developing and going into production on AWS EC2.
Customers can also benefit from the lower up-front costs, maintenance costs and pay-as-you-go infrastructure pricing of AWS. Instead of having to pay upfront for servers and managing them in an on-premise data center, customers can use virtual servers in AWS to run Informatica products on. Customers can use existing Informatica licenses or purchase them in the standard way from Informatica for use on top of AWS EC2.
Combined with the ease of use of Informatica Cloud, Informatica now offers customers looking for hybrid and cloud solutions even more options.
Read the press release including supporting quotes from AWS and Informatica customer ProQuest, here.
At the recent Bosch Connected World conference in Berlin, Stefan Bungart, Software Leader Europe at GE, presented a very interesting keynote, “How Data Eats the World”—which I assume refers to Marc Andreesen’s statement that “Software eats the world”. One of the key points he addressed in his keynote was the importance of generating actionable insight from Big Data, securely and in real-time at every level, from local to global and at an industrial scale will be the key to survival. Companies that do not invest in DATA now, will eventually end up like consumer companies which missed the Internet: It will be too late.
As software and the value of data are becoming a larger part of the business value chain, the lines between different industries become more vague, or as GE’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt once stated: “If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.” This is not only true for an industrial company, but for many companies that produce “things”: cars, jet-engines, boats, trains, lawn-mowers, tooth-brushes, nut-runners, computers, network-equipment, etc. GE, Bosch, Technicolor and Cisco are just a few of the industrial companies that offer an Internet of Things (IoT) platform. By offering the IoT platform, they enter domains of companies such as Amazon (AWS), Google, etc. As Google and Apple are moving into new areas such as manufacturing cars and watches and offering insurance, the industry-lines are becoming blurred and service becomes the key differentiator. The best service offerings will be contingent upon the best analytics and the best analytics require a complete and reliable data-platform. Only companies that can leverage data will be able to compete and thrive in the future.
The idea of this “servitization” is that instead of selling assets, companies offer service that utilizes those assets. For example, Siemens offers a service for body-scans to hospitals instead of selling the MRI scanner, Philips sells lightning services to cities and large companies, not the light bulbs. These business models enable suppliers to minimize disruption and repairs as this will cost them money. Also, it is more attractive to have as much functionality of devices in software so that upgrades or adjustments can be done without replacing physical components. This is made possible by the fact that all devices are connected, generate data and can be monitored and managed from another location. The data is used to analyse functionality, power consumption, usage , but also can be utilised to predict malfunction, proactive maintenance planning, etc.
So what impact does this have on data and on IT? First of all, the volumes are immense. Whereas the total global volume of for example Twitter messages is around 150GB, ONE gas-turbine with around 200 sensors generates close to 600GB per day! But according to IDC only 3% of potentially useful data is tagged and less than 1% is currently analysed. Secondly, the structure of the data is now always straightforward and even a similar device is producing different content (messages) as it can be on a different software level. This has impact on the backend processing and reliability of the analysis of the data.
Also the data often needs to put into context with other master data from thea, locations or customers for real-time decision making. This is a non-trivial task. Next, Governance is an aspect that needs top-level support. Questions like: Who owns the data? Who may see/use the data? What data needs to be kept or archived and for how long? What needs to be answered and governed in IoT projects with the same priorities as the data in the more traditional applications.
To summarize, managing data and mastering data governance is becoming one of the most important pillars of companies that lead the digital age. Companies that fail to do so will be at risk for becoming a new Blockbuster or Kodak: companies that didn’t adopt quickly enough. In order to avoid this, companies need to evaluate a data platform can support a comprehensive data strategy which encapsulates scalability, quality, governance, security, ease of use and flexibility, and that enables them to choose the most appropriate data processing infrastructure, whether that is on premise or in the cloud, or most likely a hybrid combination of these.
March 20th 2015 was the official start of spring and to be honest, it couldn’t have come soon enough for us folks in the North East. After a long, cold and snowy winter we’re looking forward to the spring thaw and the first green shoots of burgeoning life. Spring is also the time that we like to tackle new projects and start afresh after our winter hibernation.
For those of us in technology new spring projects often reflect the things we do in everyday life. Naturally our mind turns at this time to spring cleaning and spring training. To be honest, we’d have to admit that we haven’t scrubbed our data in three months so data cleansing is a must, but so too is training. We probably haven’t picked up a book or attended a seminar since last November. But what training should we do? And “what should we do next?”
Luckily, Informatica is providing the answer. We’ve put together two free, half day training seminars for cloud application owners and Salesforce practitioners. That’s two dates, two fantastic locations and dozens of brilliant speakers lined up to give you some new pointers for what’s coming next in the world of cloud and SaaS.
The goals of the event are to give you the tools and knowledge to strengthen your Salesforce implementation and help you delight your customers. The sessions will include presentations by experts from Salesforce and our partner Bluewolf. There will also be some best practices presentations and demonstrations from Informatica’s team of very talented engineers.
Just glance at the seminar summary and you’ll see what we mean:
Session 1: Understand the Opportunity of Every Customer Interaction
In this session Eric Berridge, Co-founder and CEO of Bluewolf Inc. will discuss how you can develop a customer obsessed culture and get the most value from every customer interaction.
Session 2: Delight Your Customers by Taking Your Salesforce Implementation to the Next Level
Ajay Gandhi, Informatica’s VP Product Marketing is next up and he’s going to provide a fabulous session on what you look out for, and where should you invest as your Salesforce footprint grows.
Session 3: Anticipate Your Business Needs With a Fresh Approach to Customer Analytics
The seminar wraps up with Benjamin Pruden, Sr. Manager Product Marketing, at Salesforce. Ben’s exciting session touches on one of the hottest topics in the industry today. He’s going to explain how you can obtain a comprehensive understanding of your most valuable customers with cloud-analytics and data-driven dashboards.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a pretty impressive seminar and well worth a couple of hours of your time.
The New York event is happening at Convene (810 Seventh Ave, 52nd and 53rd ) on April 7th. Click here for more details and to reserve your seat.
The San Francisco event is a week later on April 14th at Hotel Nikko (222 Mason Street). Make sure you click here and register today.
Come join us on the 7th or the 14th to learn how to take your cloud business to the next level. Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll also be treating yourself to some well-deserved spring training!
The emergence of the business cloud is making the need for data ever more prevalent. Whatever your business, if your role is in the sales, marketing or service departments, chances are your productivity depends a great deal on the ability to move data quickly in and out of Salesforce and its ecosphere of applications.
With the in-built data transformation intelligence, the Data Wizard (click here to try the Beta version), changes the landscape of what traditional data loaders can do. The Data Wizard takes care of the following aspects, so that you don’t have to:
- Data Transformations: We built in over 300 standard data transformations so you don’t have to format the data before bringing it in (eg. combining first and last names into full names, adding numeric columns for totals, splitting address fields into its separate components).
- Built-in intelligence: We automate the mapping of data into Salesforce for a range of common use cases (eg., Automatically mapping matching fields, intelligently auto-generating date format conversions , concatenating multiple fields).
- App-to-app integration: We incorporated pre-built integration templates to encapsulate the logic required for integrating Salesforce with other applications (eg., single click update of customer addresses in a Cloud ERP application based on Account addresses in Salesforce) .
Unlike the other data loading apps out there, the Data Wizard doesn’t presuppose any technical ability on the part of the user. It was purpose-built to solve the needs of every type of user, from the Salesforce administrator to the business analyst.
Despite the simplicity the Data Wizard offers, it is built on the robust Informatica Cloud integration platform, providing the same reliability and performance that is key to the success of Informatica Cloud’s enterprise customers, who integrate over 5 billion rows of data per day. We invite you to try the Data Wizard for free, and contribute to the Beta process by providing us with your feedback.
The problem many banks encounter today is that they have vast sums of investment tied up in old ways of doing things. Historically, customers chose a bank and remained ’loyal’ throughout their lifetime…now competition is rife and loyalty is becoming a thing of a past. In order to stay ahead of the competition, gain and keep customers, they need to understand the ever-evolving market, disrupt norms and continue to delight customers. The tradition of staying with one bank due to family convention or from ease has now been replaced with a more informed customer who understands the variety of choice at their fingertips.
Challenger Banks don’t build on ideas of tradition and legacy and see how they can make adjustments to them. They embrace change. Longer-established banks can’t afford to do nothing, and assume their size and stature will attract customers.
Here’s some useful information
Accenture’s recent report, The Bank of Things, succinctly explains what ‘Customer 3.0’ is all about. The connected customer isn’t necessarily younger. It’s everybody. Banks can get to know their customers better by making better use of information. It all depends on using intelligent data rather than all data. Interrogating the wrong data can be time-consuming, costly and results in little actionable information.
When an organisation sets out with the intention of knowing its customers, then it can calibrate its data according with where the gold nuggets – the real business insights – come from. What do people do most? Where do they go most? Now that they’re using branches and phone banking less and less – what do they look for in a mobile app?
Customer 3.0 wants to know what the bank can offer them all-the-time, on the move, on their own device. They want offers designed for their lifestyle. Correctly deciphered data can drive the level of customer segmentation that empowers such marketing initiatives. This means an organisation has to have the ability and the agility to move with its customers. It’s a journey that never ends -technology will never have a cut-off point just like customer expectations will never stop evolving.
It’s time for banks to re-shape banking
Informatica have been working with major retail banks globally to redefine banking excellence and realign operations to deliver it. We always start by asking our customers the revealing question “Have you looked at the art of the possible to future-proof your business over the next five to ten years and beyond?” This is where the discussion begins to explore really interesting notions about unlocking potential. No bank can afford to ignore them.
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.