Category Archives: Cloud Data Integration
I think this new capability, Salesforce Lightning Connect, is an innovative development and gives OData, an OASIS standard, a leg-up on its W3C-defined competitor Linked Data. OData is a REST-based protocol that provides access to data over the web. The fundamental data model is relational and the query language closely resembles what is possible with stripped-down SQL. This is much more familiar to most people than the RDF-based model using by Linked Data or its SPARQL query language.
Standardization of OData has been going on for years (they are working on version 4), but it has suffered from a bit of a chicken-egg problem. Applications haven’t put a large priority on supporting the consumption of OData because there haven’t been enough OData providers, and data providers haven’t prioritized making their data available through OData because there haven’t been enough consumers. With Salesforce, a cloud leader declaring that they will consume OData, the equation changes significantly.
But these things take time – what does someone do who is a user of Salesforce (or any other OData consumer) if most of their data sources they have cannot be accessed as an OData provider? It is the old last-mile problem faced by any communications or integration technology. It is fine to standardize, but how do you get all the existing endpoints to conform to the standard. You need someone to do the labor-intensive work of converting to the standard representation for lots of endpoints.
Informatica has been in the last-mile business for years. As it happens, the canonical model that we always used has been a relational model that lines up very well with the model used by OData. For us to host an OData provider for any of the data sources that we already support, we only needed to do one conversion from the internal format that we’ve always used to the OData standard. This OData provider capability will be available soon.
But there is also the firewall issue. The consumer of the OData has to be able to access the OData provider. So, if you want Salesforce to be able to show data from your Oracle database, you would have to open up a hole in your firewall that provides access to your database. Not many people are interested in doing that – for good reason.
Informatica Cloud’s Vibe secure agent architecture is a solution to the firewall issue that will also work with the new OData provider. The OData provider will be hosted on Informatica’s Cloud servers, but will have access to any installed secure agents. Agents require a one-time install on-premise, but are thereafter managed from the cloud and are automatically kept up-to-date with the latest version by Informatica . An agent doesn’t require a port to be opened, but instead opens up an outbound connection to the Informatica Cloud servers through which all communication occurs. The agent then has access to any on-premise applications or data sources.
OData is especially well suited to reading external data. However, there are better ways for creating or updating external data. One problem is that Salesforce only handles reads, but even when it does handle writes, it isn’t usually appropriate to add data to most applications by just inserting records in tables. Usually a collection of related information must to be provided in order for the update to make sense. To facilitate this, applications provide APIs that provide a higher level of abstraction for updates. Informatica Cloud Application Integration can be used now to read or write data to external applications from with Salesforce through the use of guides that can be displayed from any Salesforce screen. Guides make it easy to generate a friendly user interface that shows exactly the data you want your users to see and to guide them through the collection of new or updated data that needs to be written back to your app.
It takes a village to build mainstream big data solutions. We often get so caught up in Hadoop use cases and customer successes that sometimes we don’t talk enough about the innovative partner technologies and integrations that enable our customers to put the enterprise data hub at the core of their data architecture and innovate with confidence. Cloudera and Informatica have been working together to integrate our products to enable new levels of productivity and lower deployment and production risk.
Going from Hadoop to an enterprise data hub, means a number of things. It means that you recognize the business value of capturing and leveraging all your data for exploration and analytics. It means you’re ready to make the move from Hadoop pilot project to production. And it means your data is important enough that it’s worth securing and making data pipelines visible. It’s the visibility layer, and in particular, the unique integration between Cloudera Navigator and Informatica that I want to focus on in this post.
The era of big data has ushered in increased regulations in a number of industries – banking, retail, healthcare, energy – most of which deal in how data is managed throughout its lifecycle. Cloudera Navigator is the only native end-to-end solution for governance in Hadoop. It provides visibility for analysts to explore data in Hadoop, and enables administrators and managers to maintain a full audit history for HDFS, HBase, Hive, Impala, Spark and Sentry then run reports on data access for auditing and compliance.The integration of Informatica Metadata Manager in the Big Data Edition and Cloudera Navigator extends this level of visibility and governance beyond the enterprise data hub.
Today, only Informatica and Cloudera provide end-to-end data lineage from source systems through Hadoop, and into BI/analytic and data warehouse systems. And you can view it from a single pane within Informatica.
This is important because Hadoop, and the enterprise data hub in particular, doesn’t function in a silo. It’s an integrated part of a larger enterprise-wide data management architecture. The better the insight into where data originated, where it traveled, who had access to it and what they did with it, the greater our ability to report and audit. No other combination of technologies provides this level of audit granularity.
But more so than that, the visibility Cloudera and Informatica provides our joint customers with the ability to confidently stand up an enterprise data hub as a part of their production enterprise infrastructure because they can verify the integrity of the data that undergirds their analytics. I encourage you to check out a demo of the Informatica-Cloudera Navigator integration at this link: http://infa.media/1uBpPbT
You can also check out a demo and learn a little more about Cloudera Navigator and the Informatica integration in the recorded TechTalk hosted by Informatica at this link:
Building an Enterprise Data Hub with proper Data IntegrationData flows into the enterprise from many sources, in many formats, sizes, and levels of complexity. And as enterprise architectures have evolved over the years, traditional data warehouses have become less of a final staging center for data, but rather, one component of the enterprise that interfaces with significant data flows. But since data warehouses should focus on being powerful engines for high value analytics, they should not be the central hub for data movement and data preparation (e.g. ETL/ELT), especially for the newer data types–such as social media, clickstream data, sensor data, internet-of-things-data, etc.–that are in use today.
When you start seeing data warehouse capacity consumed too quickly and performance degradation where end users are complaining about slower response times, and you risk not meeting your service-level agreements, then it might be time to consider an enterprise data hub (EDH). With an EDH, especially one built on Apache™ Hadoop®, you can plan a strategy around data warehouse optimization to get better use out of your entire enterprise architecture.
Of course, whenever you add another new technology to your data center, you care about interoperability. And since many systems in today’s architectures interoperate via data flows, it’s clear that sophisticated data integration technologies will be an important part of your EDH strategy. Today’s big data presents new challenges as relates to a wide variety of data types and formats, and the right technologies are needed to glue all the pieces together, whether those pieces are data warehouses, relational databases, Hadoop, or NoSQL databases.
Choosing a Data Integration Solution
Data integration software, at a high level, has one broad responsibility: to help you process and prepare your data with the right technology. This means it has to get your data to the right place in the right format in a timely manner. So it actually includes many tasks, but the end result is that timely, trusted data can be used for decision-making and risk management throughout the enterprise. You end up with a complete, ready-for-analysis picture of your business, as opposed to segmented snapshots based on a limited data set.
When evaluating a data integration solution for the enterprise, look for:
- Ease of use to boost developer productivity
- A proven track record in the industry
- Widely available technology expertise
- Experience with production deployments with newer technologies like Hadoop
- Ability to reuse data pipelines across different technologies (e.g. data warehouse, RDBMS, Hadoop, and other NoSQL databases)
Data integration is only part of the story. When you’re depending on data to drive business decisions and risk management, you clearly want to ensure the data is reliable. Data governance, data lineage, data quality, and data auditing remain as important topics in an EDH. Oftentimes, data privacy regulatory demands must be met, and the enterprise’s own intellectual property must be protected from accidental exposure.
To help ensure that data is sound and secure, look for a solution that provides:
- Centralized management and control
- Data certification prior to publication, transparent data and integration processes, and the ability to track data lineage
- Granular security, access controls, and data masking to protect data both in transit and at the source to prevent unauthorized access to specific data sets
Informatica is the data integration solution selected by many enterprises. Informatica’s family of enterprise data integration, data quality, and other data management products can manage data — of any format, complexity level, or size –from any business system, and then deliver that data across the enterprise at the desired speed.
Watch the latest Gartner video to see Todd Goldman, Vice President and General Manager for Enterprise Data Integration at Informatica, as well as executives from Cisco and MapR, give their perspective on how businesses today can gain even more value from big data.
With the Winter 2015 Release, Informatica Cloud Advances Real Time and Batch Integration for Citizen Integrators Everywhere
The first of these is in the area of connectivity and brings a whole new set of features and capabilities to those who use our platform to connect with Salesforce, Amazon Redshift, NetSuite and SAP.
Starting with Amazon, the Winter 2015 release leverages the new Redshift Unload Command, giving any user the ability to securely perform bulk queries, and quickly scan and place multiple columns of data in the intended target, without the need for ODBC or JDBC connectors. We are also ensuring the data is encrypted at rest on the S3 bucket while loading data into Redshift tables; this provides an additional layer of security around your data.
For SAP, we’ve added the ability to balance the load across all applications servers. With the new enhancement, we use a Type B connection to route our integration workflows through a SAP messaging server, which then connects with any available SAP application server. Now if an application server goes down, your integration workflows won’t go down with it. Instead, you’ll automatically be connected to the next available application server.
Additionally, we’ve expanded the capability of our SAP connector by adding support for ECC5. While our connector came out of the box with ECC6, ECC5 is still used by a number of our enterprise customers. The expanded support now provides them with the full coverage they and many other larger companies need.
Finally, for Salesforce, we’re updating to the newest versions of their APIs (Version 31) to ensure you have access to the latest features and capabilities. The upgrades are part of an aggressive roadmap strategy, which places updates of connectors to the latest APIs on our development schedule the instant they are announced.
The second major platform enhancement for the Winter 2015 release has to do with our Cloud Mapping Designer and is sure to please those familiar with PowerCenter. With the new release, PowerCenter users can perform secure hybrid data transformations – and sharpen their cloud data warehousing and data analytic skills – through a familiar mapping and design environment and interface.
Specifically, the new enhancement enables you to take a mapplet you’ve built in PowerCenter and bring it directly into the Cloud Mapping Designer, without any additional steps or manipulations. With the PowerCenter mapplets, you can perform multi-group transformations on objects, such as BAPIs. When you access the Mapplet via the Cloud Mapping Designer, the groupings are retained, enabling you to quickly visualize what you need, and navigate and map the fields.
Additional productivity enhancements to the Cloud Mapping Designer extend the lookup and sorting capabilities and give you the ability to upload or delete data automatically based on specific conditions you establish for each target. And with the new feature supporting fully parameterized, unconnected lookups, you’ll have increased flexibility in runtime to do your configurations.
The third and final major Winter release enhancement is to our Real Time capability. Most notable is the addition of three new features that improve the usability and functionality of the Process Designer.
The first of these is a new “Wait” step type. This new feature applies to both processes and guides and enables the user to add a time-based condition to an action within a service or process call step, and indicate how long to wait for a response before performing an action.
When used in combination with the Boundary timer event variation, the Wait step can be added to a service call step or sub-process step to interrupt the process or enable it to continue.
The second is a new select feature in the Process Designer which lets users create their own service connectors. Now when a user is presented with multiple process objects created when the XML or JSON is returned from a service, he or she can select the exact ones to include in the connector.
An additional Generate Process Objects feature automates the creation of objects, thus eliminating the tedious task of replicating hold service responses containing hierarchical XML and JSON data for large structures. These can now be conveniently auto generated when testing a Service Connector, saving integration developers a lot of time.
The final enhancement for the Process Designer makes it simpler to work with XML-based services. The new “Simplified XML” feature for the “Get From” field treats attributes as children, removing the namespaces and making sibling elements into an object list. Now if a user only needs part of the returned XML, they just have to indicate the starting point for the simplified XML.
While those conclude the major enhancements, additional improvements include:
- A JMS Enqueue step is now available to submit an XML or JSON message to a JMS Queue or Topic accessible via the a secure agent.
- Dequeuing (queue and topics) of XML or JSON request payloads is now fully supported.
It’s amazing how fast a year goes by. Last year, Informatica Cloud exhibited at Amazon re:Invent for the very first time where we showcased our connector for Amazon Redshift. At the time, customers were simply kicking the tires on Amazon’s newest cloud data warehousing service, and trying to learn where it might make sense to fit Amazon Redshift into their overall architecture. This year, it was clear that customers had adopted several AWS services and were truly “all-in” on the cloud. In the words of Andy Jassy, Senior VP of Amazon Web Services, “Cloud has become the new normal”.
During Day 1 of the keynote, Andy outlined several areas of growth across the AWS ecosystem such as a 137% YoY increase in data transfer to and from Amazon S3, and a 99% YoY increase in Amazon EC2 instance usage. On Day 2 of the keynote, Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon made the case that there has never been a better time to build apps on AWS because of all the enterprise-grade features. Several customers came on stage during both keynotes to demonstrate their use of AWS:
- Major League Baseball’s Statcast application consumed 17PB of raw data
- Philips Healthcare used over a petabyte a month
- Intuit revealed their plan to move the rest of their applications to AWS over the next few years
- Johnson & Johnson outlined their use of Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and referred to their use of hybrid cloud as the “borderless datacenter”
- Omnifone illustrated how AWS has the network bandwidth required to deliver their hi-res audio offerings
- The Weather Company scaled AWS across 4 regions to deliver 15 billion forecast publications a day
Informatica was also mentioned on stage by Andy Jassy as one of the premier ISVs that had built solutions on top of the AWS platform. Indeed, from having one connector in the AWS ecosystem last year (for Amazon Redshift), Informatica has released native connectors for Amazon DynamoDB, Elastic MapReduce (EMR), S3, Kinesis, and RDS.
With so many customers using AWS, it becomes hard for them to track their usage on a more granular level – this is especially true with enterprise companies using AWS because of the multitude of departments and business units using several AWS services. Informatica Cloud and Tableau developed a joint solution which was showcased at the Amazon re:Invent Partner Theater, where it was possible for an IT Operations individual to drill down into several dimensions to find out the answers they need around AWS usage and cost. IT Ops personnel can point out the relevant data points in their data model, such as availability zone, rate, and usage type, to name a few, and use Amazon Redshift as the cloud data warehouse to aggregate this data. Informatica Cloud’s Vibe Integration Packages combined with its native connectivity to Amazon Redshift and S3 allow the data model to be reflected as the correct set of tables in Redshift. Tableau’s robust visualization capabilities then allow users to drill down into the data model to extract whatever insights they require. Look for more to come from Informatica Cloud and Tableau on this joint solution in the upcoming weeks and months.
“The NIH multi-institute awards constitute an initial investment of nearly $32 million in fiscal year 2014 by NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative and will support development of new software, tools and training to improve access to these data and the ability to make new discoveries using them, NIH said in its announcement of the funding.”
The grants will address issues around Big Data adoption, including:
- Locating data and the appropriate software tools to access and analyze the information.
- Lack of data standards, or low adoption of standards across the research community.
- Insufficient polices to facilitate data sharing while protecting privacy.
- Unwillingness to collaborate that limits the data’s usefulness in the research community.
Among the tasks funded is the creation of a “Perturbation Data Coordination and Integration Center.” The center will provide support for data science research that focuses on interpreting and integrating data from different data types and databases. In other words, it will make sure the data moves to where it should move, in order to provide access to information that’s needed by the research scientist. Fundamentally, it’s data integration practices and technologies.
This is very interesting from the standpoint that the movement into big data systems often drives the reevaluation, or even new interest in data integration. As the data becomes strategically important, the need to provide core integration services becomes even more important.
The project at the NIH will be interesting to watch, as it progresses. These are the guys who come up with the new paths to us being healthier and living longer. The use of Big Data provides the researchers with the advantage of having a better understanding of patterns of data, including:
- Patterns of symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of specific diseases and ailments. Doctors may get these data points one at a time. When unstructured or structured data exists, researchers can find correlations, and thus provide better guidelines to physicians who see the patients.
- Patterns of cures that are emerging around specific treatments. The ability to determine what treatments are most effective, by looking at the data holistically.
- Patterns of failure. When the outcomes are less than desirable, what seems to be a common issue that can be identified and resolved?
Of course, the uses of big data technology are limitless, when considering the value of knowledge that can be derived from petabytes of data. However, it’s one thing to have the data, and another to have access to it.
Data integration should always be systemic to all big data strategies, and the NIH clearly understands this to be the case. Thus, they have funded data integration along with the expansion of their big data usage.
Most enterprises will follow much the same path in the next 2 to 5 years. Information provides a strategic advantage to businesses. In the case of the NIH, it’s information that can save lives. Can’t get much more important than that.
With Informatica Cloud, we’ve long tracked the growth of the various cloud apps and its adoption in the enterprise. Common business patterns – such as opportunity-to-order, employee onboarding, data migration and business intelligence – that once took place solely on-premises are now being conducted both in the cloud and on-premises.
The fact is that we are well on our way to a world where our business needs are best met by a mix of on-premises and cloud applications. Regardless of what we do or make, we can no longer get away with just on-premises applications – or at least not for long. As we become more reliant on cloud services, such as those offered by Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, NetSuite, Workday, we are embracing the reality of a new hybrid world, and the imperative for simpler integration it demands.
So, as the ground shifts beneath us, moving us toward the hybrid world, we, as business and IT users, are left standing with a choice: Continue to seek solutions in our existing on-premises integration stacks, or go beyond, to find them with the newer and simpler cloud solution. Let us briefly look at five business patterns we’ve been tracking.
One of the first things we’ve noticed with the hybrid environment is the incredible frequency with which data is moved back and forth between the on-premises and cloud environments. We call this the data integration pattern, and it is best represented by getting data, such as price list or inventory from Oracle E-Business into a cloud app so that the actual user of the cloud app can view the most updated information. Here the data (usually master data) is copied toserves a certain purpose. Data Integration also involves the typical needs of data to be transformed before it can be inserted or updated. The understanding of metadata and data models of the involved applications is key to do this effectively and repeatedly.
The second is the application integration pattern, or the real time transaction flow between your on-premises and cloud environment, where you have business processes and services that need to communicate with one another. Here, the data needs to be referenced in real time for a knowledge worker to take action.
The third, data warehousing in the cloud, is an emerging pattern that is gaining importance for both mid- and large-size companies. In this pattern, businesses are moving massive amounts of data in bulk from both on-premises and cloud sources into a cloud data warehouse, such as Amazon Redshift, for BI analysis.
The fourth, the Internet of Things (IOT) pattern, is also emerging and is becoming more important, especially as new technologies and products, such as Nest, enable us to push streaming data (sensor data, web logs, etc.) and combine them with other cloud and on-premises data sources into a cloud data store. Often the data is unstructured and hence it is critical for an integration platform to effectively deal with unstructured data.
The fifth and final pattern, API integration, is gaining prominence in the cloud. Here, an on-premise or cloud application exposes the data or service as an external API that can be consumed directly by applications or by a higher-level composite app in an orchestration.
While there are certainly different approaches to the challenges brought by Hybrid IT, cloud integration is often best-suited to solving them.
First, while the integration problems are more or less similar to the on-premise world, the patterns now overlap between cloud and on-premise. Second, integration responsibility is now picked up at the edge, closer to the users, whom we call “citizen integrators”. Third, time to market and agility demands that any integration platform you work with can live up to your expectations of speed. There are no longer multiyear integration initiatives in the era of the cloud. Finally, the same values that made cloud application adoption attractive (such as time-to-value, manageability, low operational overhead) also apply to cloud integration.
One of the most important forces driving cloud adoption is the need for companies to put more power into hands of the business user. These users often need to access data in other systems and they are quite comfortable going through the motions of doing so without actually being aware that they are performing integration. We call this class of users ‘Citizen Integrators’. For example, if a user uploads an excel file to Salesforce, it’s not something they would call as “integration”. It is an out-of-the-box action that is integrated with their user experience and is simple to use from a tooling point of view and oftentimes native within the application they are working with.
Cloud Integration Convergence is driving many integration use cases. The most common integration – such as employee onboarding – can span multiple integration patterns. It involves data integration, application integration and often data warehousing for business intelligence. If we agree that doing this in the cloud makes sense, the question is whether you need three different integration stacks in the cloud for each integration pattern. And even if you have three different stacks, what if an integration flow involves the comingling of multiple patterns? What we are noticing is a single Cloud Integration platform to address more and more of these use cases and also providing the tooling for both a Citizen Integrator as well as an experienced Integration Developer.
The bottom line is that in the new hybrid world we are seeing a convergence, where the industry is moving towards streamlined and lighter weight solutions that can handle multiple patterns with one platform.
The concept of Cloud Integration Convergence is an important one and we have built its imperatives into our products. With our cloud integration platform, we combine the ability to handle any integration pattern with an easy-to-use interface that empowers citizen integrators, and frees integration developers for more rigorous projects. And because we’re Informatica, we’ve designed it to work in tandem with PowerCenter, which means anything you’ve developed for PowerCenter can be leveraged for Informatica Cloud and vice versa thereby fulfilling Informatica’s promise of Map Once, Deploy Anywhere.
In closing, I invite you to visit us at the Informatica booth at Oracle Open World in booth #3512 in Moscone West. I’ll be there with some of my colleagues, and we would be happy to meet and talk with you about your experiences and challenges with the new Hybrid IT world.
As covered in Loraine Lawson’s blog, MeriTalk surveyed federal government IT professionals about their use of cloud computing. As it turns out, “89 percent out of 153 surveyed expressed ‘some apprehension about losing control of their IT services,’ according to MeriTalk.”
Loraine and I agree that what the survey says about the government’s data integration, management, and governance, is that they don’t seem to be very good at cloud data management…yet. Some of the other gruesome details include:
- 61 percent do not have quality, documented metadata.
- 52 percent do not have well understood data integration processes.
- 50 percent have not identified data owners.
- 49 percent do not have known systems of record.
“Overall, respondents did not express confidence about the success of their data governance and management efforts, with 41 percent saying their data integration management efforts were some degree of ‘not successful.’ This lead MeriTalk to conclude, ‘Data integration and remediation need work.’”
The problem with the government is that data integration, data governance, data management, and even data security have not been priorities. The government has a huge amount of data to manage, and they have not taken the necessary steps to adopt the best practices and technology that would allow them to manage it properly.
Now that everyone is moving to the cloud, the government included, questions are popping up about the proper way to manage data within the government, from the traditional government enterprises to the public cloud. Clearly, there is much work to be done to get the government ready for the cloud, or even ready for emerging best practices around data management and data integration.
If the government is to move in the right direction, they must first come to terms with the data. This means understanding where the data is, what it does, who owns it, access mechanisms, security, governance, etc., and apply this understanding holistically to most of the data under management.
The problem within the government is that the data is so complex, distributed, and, in many cases, unique, that it’s difficult for the government to keep good track of the data. Moreover, the way the government does procurement, typically in silos, leads to a much larger data integration problem. I was working with government agencies that had over 5,000 siloed systems, each with their own database or databases, and most do not leverage data integration technology to exchange data.
There are ad-hoc data integration approaches and some technology in place, but nowhere close to what’s need to support the amount and complexity of data. Now that government agencies are looking to move to the cloud, the issues around data management are beginning to be better understood.
So, what’s the government to do? This is a huge issue that can’t be fixed overnight. There should be incremental changes that occur over the next several years. This also means allocating more resources to data management and data integration than has been allocated in the past, and moving it much higher up in the priorities lists.
These are not insurmountable problems. However, they require a great deal of focus before things will get better. The movement to the cloud seems to be providing that focus.
But, as Billy Macinnes, in his July MicroScope article, reminds us, the opportunities come with many challenges, and so far only a few ISVs have risen high enough to truly meet them all. While the article itself is more concerned about where ISVs are headed, Macinnes and the industry experts he references, such as Mike West and Philip Howard, make it clear that no one is going anywhere far without a cloud strategy that meaningfully addresses data integration.
As a business app consumer myself, I too am excited by the possibilities that exist. I am intrigued by the way in which the new applications embrace the user-first ethos and deliver consumer-app-like interfaces and visual experiences. What concerns me is what happens next, once you get beyond the pretty design and actually try to solve the business use case for which the app is intended. This, unfortunately, is where many business apps fail. While most can access data from a single specific application, few can successfully interact with external data coming from multiple sources.
Like many of the challenges (such as licensing and provisioning) faced by today’s ISVs, data integration is something that lies outside of the expertise area of a typical app developer. Let’s say, for example, you’ve just come up with a new way to anticipate customer needs and match it with excess inventory. While the developer expertise and art of the app may be, say, in a new algorithm, the user experience, ultimately, is equally dependent on your ability to surface data – inventory, pricing, SKU numbers, etc. – that may be held in SaaS and on-premises systems and seamlessly marry it – behind the scenes – to cloud-based customer information.
The bottom line is that regardless of the genius behind your idea or user interface, if you can’t feed relevant data into your application and ensure its completeness, quality and security for meaningful consumption, your app will be dead in the water. As a result, app developers are spending an inordinate amount of time – in some cases up to 80% of their development cycle – working through data issues. Even with that, many still get stuck and end up with little more for their effort than a hard lesson in the difficulties of enterprise data integration long understood by every integration developer.
Fortunately, there is a better way: cloud integration.
Cloud integration enables the developer to focus on their app and core business. The ISV can offer cloud integration to its customers as an external resource or as an embedded part of its app. While some may see this as a choice, any ISV looking to provide the best possible user experience has no real option other than to embed the integration services as part of their application.
Look at any successful business app, and chances are you’ll find something that empowers users to work independently, without having to rely on other teams or tools for solutions. Take, for example, the common use case of bringing data into an app via a CSV file. With integration built directly into the app, the user can upload the file and resolve any semantic conflicts herself, with no assistance from IT. Without it, the user is now reliant on others to do his or her job, and ultimately less productive. Clearly, the better experience is the one that provides users with easy access to everything needed – including data from multiple sources – to get the work done themselves. And the most effective way you can do that is by embedding integration into the application.
Now that we’ve settled why cloud integration works best as an embedded capability, let’s take a closer look at how it works within the application context.
With cloud integration embedded into your app, you can essentially work behind the scenes to connect different data sources and incorporate the mapping and workflows between your app and the universe of enterprise data sources. How it accomplishes that is through abstraction. By abstracting connectivity to these data sources, you take the complexities involved with bringing data from an external source – such as SAP or Salesforce – and place it within a well-defined integration template or Vibe Integration Package (VIP). Once these abstractions are defined, you can then, as an application developer, access these templates through REST API and bring the specified data into your application.
While connectivity abstraction and REST APIs are important on their own, like all great pairings, it is only in combination that their true utility is realized. In fact, taken separately, neither is of much value to the application developer. Alone, a REST API can access the raw data type, but without the abstraction, the information is too unintelligible and incomplete to be of any use. And without the REST API, the abstracted data has no way of getting from the source to the application.
The value that REST APIs together with connectivity abstraction bring cannot be overstated, especially when the connectivity can span multiple integration templates. The mechanism for accomplishing integration is, like an automobile transmission, incredibly complex. To give an analogy, just like a car’s shift lever exposes a simple interface to move the gears from Park to Drive, activating a series of complex sensors to make the appropriate motions under the hood, the integration templates allow the user to work with the data in any way they want without ever having to understand or know about the complexities going on underneath.
As the leading cloud integration solution and platform, Informatica Cloud has long recognized the importance of pairing REST APIs and connectivity abstraction.
The first and most important function within our REST API is administration. It enables you to set up your organization and the administration of your users and permissions. The second function allows you to run and monitor integration tasks. And with the third, end users can configure the integration templates themselves, and enforce the business rules to apply for their specific process. You can view the entire set of Informatica Cloud REST API capabilities here.
It is in this last area – integration configurability – where we are truly setting ourselves apart. The Vibe Integration Packages (VIPs) not only abstract backend connectivity but also ensure that the data is complete – with the needed attributes from the underlying apps – and is of high quality and formatted for easy consumption in the end-user application. With the Packages, we’ve put together many of the most common integrations with reusable integration logic that is configurable through a variety of parameters. Our configurable templates enable your app users to customize and fine-tune their integrations – with custom fields, objects, etc. – to meet the specific behavior and functionality of their integrations. For example, the Salesforce to SAP VIP includes all the integration templates you need to solve different business use cases, such as integrating product, order and account information.
With their reusability and groupings encompassing many of the common integration use cases, our Vibe Integration Packages really are revolutionizing work for everyone. Using Informatica Cloud’s Visual Designer, developers can quickly create new, reusable VIPs, with parameterized values, for business users to consume. And SaaS administrators and business analysts can perform complex business integrations in a fraction of the time it took previously, and customize new integrations on the fly, without IT’s help.
More and more, developers are building great-looking apps with even greater aspirations. In many cases, the only thing holding them back is the ability to access back-office data without using external tools and interfaces, or outside assistance. With Informatica Cloud, data integration need no longer take a backseat to design, or anything else. Through our REST API, abstractions and Vibe Integration Packages, we help developers put an end to the compromise on user experience by bringing in the data directly through the application – for the benefit of everyone.