Tag Archives: cloud integration

Bulletproof Tips to Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

Optimize Data Transformations for Salesforce

In the journey from a single-purpose cloud CRM app to the behemoth that it is today, Salesforce has made many smart acquisitions. However, the recent purchase of RelateIQ may have just been its most ingenious. Although a relatively small startup, RelateIQ has gained a big reputation for its innovative use of data science and predictive analytics, which would be highly beneficial to Salesforce customers.

As relevant from the acquisition, there is little doubt that the cloud application world is making a tectonic shift to data science and the appetite for Big Data to be pieced together to fuel the highly desired 360-degree view is only growing stronger.

But while looking ahead is certainly important, those of us who live in the present have much work yet still to accomplish in the here and now. For many, that means figuring out the best way to leverage data integration strategies and the Salesforce platform to gain actionable intelligence for our sales, marketing and CRM projects – today. Up until recently, this has involved manual, IT-heavy processes.

We need look no further than three common use cases where typical data integration strategies and technologies fail today’s business users:

Automated Metadata Discovery
The first, and perhaps most frustrating, has to do with discovering related objects. For example, objects, such as Accounts, don’t exist in a vacuum. They have related objects such as Contacts that can provide the business user – be it a salesperson or customer service manager, with context of the customer.

Now, during the typical data-integration process, these related objects are obscured from view because most integration technologies in the market today cannot automatically recognize the object metadata that could potentially relate all of the customer data together. The result is an incomplete view of the customer in Salesforce, and a lost opportunity to leverage the platform’s capability to strengthen a relationship or close a deal.

The Informatica Cloud platform is engineered ground up to be aware of the application ecosystem API and understand its metadata. As a result, our mapping engine can automatically discover metadata and relate objects to one another. This automated metadata discovery gives business users the ability to discover, choose and bring all of the related objects together into one mapping flow. Now, with a just a few clicks, business users, can quickly piece together relevant information in Salesforce and take the appropriate action.

Bulk Preparation of Data
The second instance where most data integration solutions typically fall short is with respect to the bulk preparation of data for analytic runs prior to the data transformation process. With the majority of Line-of-Business (LOB) applications now being run in the cloud, the typical business user has multiple terabytes of cloud data that either need to be warehoused on-premise or in the cloud, for a BI app to perform its analytics.

As a result, the best practice for bringing in data for analytics requires the ability to select and aggregate multiple data records from multiple data sources into a single batch, to speed up transformation and loading and – ultimately – intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, advanced transformations such as aggregations are something that is simply beyond the capabilities of most other integration technologies. Instead, most bring the data in one record or message at time, inhibiting speedy data loading and delivery of critical intelligence to business users when they need it most.

Alternatively, Informatica has leveraged its intellectual property in the market-leading data integration product, PowerCenter, and developed data aggregation transformation functionality within Informatica Cloud. This enables business users to pick a select group of important data points from multiple data sources – for example, country or dollar size of revenue opportunities – to aggregate and quickly process huge volumes in a single batch.

In-App Business Accelerators
Similar to what we’ve experienced with the mobile iOS and Android platforms, there recently has been an explosion of new, single-purpose business applications being developed and released for the cloud. While the platform-specific mobile model is predicated on and has flourished because of the “build it and they will come” premise, the paradigm does not work in the same way for cloud-based applications that are trying to become a platform.

The reason for this is that, unlike with iOS and Android platforms, in the cloud world, business users have a main LOB application that they are familiar with and rely on packaged integrations to bring in from other LOB cloud applications. However, with Salesforce extending its reach to become a cloud platform, the center of data gravity is shifting towards it being used for more than just CRM and the success of this depends upon these packaged integrations. Up until now, these integrations have just consisted of sample code and have been incredibly complex (and IT-heavy) to build and very cumbersome to use. As a result, business users lack the agility to easily customize fields or their workflows to match their unique business processes. Ultimately, the packages that were intended to accelerate business ended up inhibiting it.

Informatica Cloud’s Vibe Integration Packages (or VIPs) have made the promise of the integration package as a business accelerator into a reality, for all business users. Unlike sample code, VIPs are sophisticated templates that encapsulate the intelligence or logic of how you integrate the data between apps. While VIPs abstract complexity to give users out-of-the box integration, their pre-built mapping also provides great flexibility. Now, with just a few keystrokes, business users can map custom fields or leverage their unique business model into their Salesforce workflows.

A few paragraphs back I began this discussion with the recent acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce. While we can make an educated guess as to what that will bring in the future, no one knows for sure. What we do know is that, at present, Salesforce’s completeness as a platform – and source of meaningful analytics – requires something in addition to run your relevant business applications and solutions through it. A complete iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution such as Informatica Cloud has the power to make the vision into reality. Informatica enables this through the meta-data rich platform for data discovery, Industry leading data and application integration capabilities and business accelerators that put the power back in the hands of citizen application integrators and business users.

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Posted in Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Ashes of SOA: Service-Oriented Integration for the Hybrid App World

Service-Oriented Integration

Service-Oriented Integration for the Hybrid App World

History is full of instances where a new technology or idea seemingly arrives before its time and has difficulty taking hold because the organizational, cultural or technological foundation simply isn’t there to support it. One such infamous case I keep coming back to is the spectacular rise and gradual fall from grace of SOA. It’s been over five years since Ann Thomas Manes put a nail in its coffin with her provocative (and widely interpreted) SOA obituary. Ann’s point was simple: SOA as “an acronym” got in the way. Too much time was devoted to technology debates (e.g., ‘what’s the best ESB?’ or ‘WS-* vs. REST’), and everyone missed the important issue: architecture and services.

SOA was born out of purposeful intent, to solve a specific problem in a particularly novel way: standards-based and interoperable service-based integration driven by the WS-* standardization efforts. It foreshadowed the fragmentation of the monolithic on-premise software providers and pre-dated the rise of a new cloud-centric world – and it arguably arrived too fast for many organizations to take advantage of it on-premise. The constant churn of WS-* specifications didn’t help the cause either.

Some IT shops got bogged down in religious arguments over WS-* vs. REST while others pushed on, bolting on service interfaces to existing application stacks and protocols and building new service infrastructure as an investment for the future. The result, as we all know, was a lot of hype and dashed expectations for some.

Fast forward five years, and the future foreshadowed by SOA is almost a reality. And while SOA (the acronym) may be dead, the need for a service-oriented architecture is very much alive.

We now live in a hybrid world, populated by cloud, social and on-premise applications, and the move to the cloud for business is a fait accompli — or at the least, inevitable. Cloud initiatives are fueling a new type of service-oriented integration – one where, unlike in the past, the approach is no longer strictly defined by protocols but rather by application services and event-based integration.

In this new world, IT no longer controls the architecture of the apps its business users use (or where they execute), and so consumers and providers – cloud apps, on-premise apps and systems – need to interact in loosely-coupled service-oriented ways. This evolution forces new integration realities that had for many been hidden from sight and kept within the domain of application owners.

Eight or nine years ago, when SOA fever was at its height, everyone was running around trying to transform their internal systems and build new and complex infrastructure to meet an incomplete technological imperative.

Today, the landscape has completely changed. The need for ESBs and tightly coupled integrations that expose the innards of your infrastructure no longer apply. Eventually, as applications move to the Cloud, there will no longer be much infrastructure left to expose. Instead, the integrations are and will increasingly be occurring in the cloud, over an open framework, through high-level service-centric APIs.

At Informatica, we’ve taken the lessons and imperatives of SOA – simplicity, data consistency and accessibility and security – and incorporated it into a platform that makes the promise of service-oriented, hybrid, event-driven integration a reality.

We’ve innovated, and now deliver tooling that both enables technically savvy application owners to implement integrations themselves and IT to assist. And we’ve also made it possible for application owners to consume data and business services and processes in an intuitive user interface that abstracts the underlying details of our hybrid integration platform.

The result is an integration platform that empowers application owners. This is what makes what we’re currently doing at Informatica Cloud so particularly exciting, and potentially disruptive.

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Cloud Day Tidings and Tidbits at Informatica World 2014

With practically every on-premise application having a counterpart in the SaaS world, enterprise IT departments have truly made the leap to a new way of computing that is transforming their organizations. The last mile of cloud transformation lies in the field of integration, and it is for this purpose that Informatica had a dedicated Cloud Day this year at Informatica World 2014.

The day kicked off with an introduction by Ronen Schwartz, VP and GM of Informatica Cloud, to the themes of intelligent data integration, comprehensive cloud data management, and cloud process automation. The point was made that with SaaS applications being customized frequently, and the need for more data insights from these apps, it is important to have a single platform that can excel at both batch and real-time integration. A whole series of exciting panel discussions followed, ranging from mission critical Salesforce.com integration, to cloud data warehouses, to hybrid integration use cases involving Informatica PowerCenter and Informatica Cloud.

In the mission critical Salesforce.com integration panel, we had speakers from Intuit, InsideTrack, and Cloud Sherpas. Intuit talked about how they went live with Informatica Cloud in under four weeks, with only two developers on hand. InsideTrack had an interesting use case, wherein, they were using the force.com platform to build a native app that tracked performance of students and the impact of coaching on them. InsideTrack connected to several databases outside the Salesforce platform to perform sophisticated analytics and bring them into their app through the power of Informatica Cloud. Cloud Sherpas, a premier System Integrator, and close partner of both Salesforce.com and Informatica outlined three customer case studies of how they used Informatica Cloud to solve complex integration challenges. The first was a medical devices company that was trying to receive up-to-the-minute price quotes be integrating Salesforce and SAP, the second was a global pharmaceuticals company that was using Salesforce to capture data about their research subjects and needed to synchronize that information with their databases, and the third was Salesforce.com itself.

The die-hard data geeks came out in full force for the cloud data warehousing panel. Accomplished speakers from Microstrategy, Amazon, and The Weather Channel discussed data warehousing using Amazon Web Services. A first-time attendee to this panel would have assumed that cloud data warehousing simply dealt with running relational databases on virtual machines spun up from EC2, but instead participants were in enthralled to learn that Amazon Redshift was a relational database that ran 100% in the cloud. The Weather Channel uses Amazon Redshift to perform analytics on almost 750 million rows of data. Using Informatica Cloud, they can load this data into Redshift in a mere half hour. Microstrategy talked about their cloud analytics initiatives and how they looked at it holistically from a hybrid standpoint.

On that note, it was time for the panel of hybrid integration practitioners to take the stage, with Qualcomm and Conde Nast discussing their use of PowerCenter and Cloud. Qualcomm emphasized that the value of Informatica Cloud was the easy access to a variety of connectors, and that they were using connectors for Salesforce, NetSuite, several relational databases, and web services. Conde Nast mentioned that it was extremely easy to port mappings between PowerCenter and Cloud due to the common code base between the two.

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What do CIOs think about when integrating Salesforce?

Viswanath_0416Salesforce.com is one of the most widely used cloud applications across every industry. Initially, Salesforce gained dominance from mid-market customers due to the agility and ease of deployment that the SaaS approach delivered. A cloud-based CRM system enabled SMB companies to easily automate sales processes that recorded customer interactions during the sales cycle and scale without costly infrastructure to maintain. This resulted in faster growth, thereby showing rapid ROI of a Salesforce deployment in most cases.

The Eye of the Enterprise

When larger enterprises saw the rapid growth that mid-market players had achieved, they realized that Salesforce was a unique technology enabler capable of helping their businesses to also speed time to market and scale more effectively. In most enterpises, the Salesforce deployments were driven by line-of-business units such as Sales and Customer Service, with varying degrees of coordination with central IT groups – in fact, most initial deployments of Salesforce orgs were done fairly autonomously from central IT.

With Great Growth Comes Greater Integration Challenges

When these business units needed to engage with each other to run cross functional tasks, the lack of a single customer view across the siloed Salesforce instances became a problem. Each individual Salesforce org had its own version of the truth and it was impossible to locate where in the sales cycle each customer was in respect to each business unit. As a consequence, cross-selling and upselling became very difficult. In short, the very application that was a key technology enabler for growth was now posing challenges to meet business objectives.

Scaling for Growth with Custom Apps

While many companies use the pre-packaged functionality in Salesforce, ISVs have also begun building custom apps using the Force.com platform due to its extensibility and rapid customization features. By using Salesforce to build native applications from the ground up, they could design innovative user interfaces that expose powerful functionality to end users. However, to truly add value, it was not just the user interface that was important, but also the back-end of the technology stack. This was especially evident when it came to aggregating data from several sources, and surfacing them in the custom Force.com apps.

On April 23rd at 10am PDT, you’ll hear how two CIOs from two different companies tackled the above integration challenges with Salesforce: Rising Star finalist of the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Journal CIO Awards, Eric Johnson of Informatica, and Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders, Derald Sue of InsideTrack.

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The Need for Specialized SaaS Analytics

SaaS

SaaS companies are growing rapidly and becoming the top priority for most CIOs. With such high growth expectations, many SaaS vendors are investing in sales and marketing to acquire new customers even if it means having a negative net profit margin as a result. Moreover, with the pressure to grow rapidly, there is an increased urgency to ensure that the Average Sales Price (ASP) of every transaction increases in order to meet revenue targets.

The nature of the cloud allows these SaaS companies to release new features every few months, which sales reps can then promote to new customers. When new functionalities are not used nor understood, customers often feel that they have overpaid for a SaaS product. In such cases, customers usually downgrade to a lower-priced edition or worse, leave the vendor entirely. To make up for this loss, the sales representatives must work harder to acquire new leads, which results in less attention for existing customers. Preventing customer churn is very important. The Cost to Acquire a Customer (CAC) for upsells is 19% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars. In comparison, the CAC to renew existing customers is only 15% of the CAC to acquire new customer dollars.

Accurate customer usage data helps determine which features customers use and which are under utilized. Gathering this data can help pinpoint high-value features that are not used, especially for customers that have recently upgraded to a higher edition. The process of collecting this data involves several touch points – from recording clicks within the app to analyzing the open rate of entire modules. This is where embedded cloud integration comes into play.

Embedding integration within a SaaS application allows vendors to gain operational insights into each aspect of how their app is being used. With this data, vendors are able to provide feedback to product management in regards to further improvements. Additionally, embedding integration can alert the customer success management team of potential churn, thereby allowing them to implement preventative measures.

To learn more about how a specialized analytics environment can be set up for SaaS apps, join Informatica and Gainsight on April 9th at 10am PDT for an informational webinar Powering Customer Analytics with Embedded Cloud Integration.

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Combining Cloud Integration and Big Data in the Cloud to Accelerate Analytics

An explosion in mobile devices and social media usage has been the driving force behind large brands using big data solutions for deep, insightful analytics.  In fact, a recent mobile consumer survey found that 71% of people used their mobile devices to access social media.

With social media becoming a major avenue for advertising, and mobile devices being the medium of access, there are numerous data points that global brands can cross-reference to get a more complete picture of their consumer, and their buying propensities. Analyzing these multitudes of data points is the reason behind the rise of big data solutions such as Hadoop.

Related: Informatica Cloud’s Marketplace connectors for Cloudera Hadoop CDH 4.1 and Hortonworks Hadoop HDP 1.1

However, Hadoop itself is only one Big Data framework, and consists of several different flavors. Facebook, which called itself the owner of the world’s largest Hadoop cluster, at 100 petabytes, outgrew its capabilities on Hadoop and is looking into a technology which would allow it to abstract its Hadoop workloads across several geographically dispersed datacenters.

When it comes to analytics projects that require intensive data warehousing, there is no one-size fits all answer for Big Data as the use cases can be extremely varied, ranging from short-term to long-term. Deploying Hadoop clusters requires specialized skills and proper capacity planning. In contrast, Big Data solutions in the cloud such as Amazon RedShift allow users to provision database nodes on demand and in a matter of minutes, without the need to take into account large outlays of infrastructure such as servers, and datacenter space. As a result, cloud-based Big Data can be a viable alternative for short-term analytics projects as well as fulfilling sandbox requirements to test out larger Big Data integration projects. Cloud-based Big Data may also make sense in situations where only a subset of the data is required for analysis as opposed to the entire dataset.

With cloud integration, much of the complexity of connecting to data sources and targets is abstracted away. Consequently, when a cloud-based Big Data deployment is combined with a cloud integration solution, it can result in even more time and cost savings and get the projects off the ground much faster.

We’ll be discussing several use cases around cloud-based Big Data in our webinar on August 22nd, Big Data in the Cloud with Informatica Cloud and Amazon Redshift, with special guests from Amazon on the event.

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Posted in Big Data, Cloud Computing, Data Integration | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Hybrid IT and the Latest Informatica Cloud Release

In a recent Information Management blog post, Alex Bakker from Saugatuck Technology noted:

“There is an underlying problem facing many, if not most enterprise IT leaders and organizations: these technologies [Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Integration] have developed much faster than enterprise IT groups and practices have been able to adopt and manage them.”

Sound familiar? Gartner (and others) have referred to the new reality of enterprise IT as Hybrid IT. At Informatica World next month, we have an entire track on this topic.

The good news is a topic that was once considered the “Achilles heel of cloud computing” is increasingly being recognized as the key enabler of cloud success:  integration and data management. With that in mind, Informatica rolled out our Summer 2013 release this week. Here are some highlights and useful resources. (more…)

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Posted in Cloud Computing, News & Announcements, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Announcing Informatica Cloud Spring 2013

On Wednesday we announced our latest cloud integration release – Informatica Cloud Spring 2013. It’s a major step forward in terms of breadth and depth for our software as a service (SaaS) solution. Why, you ask?

Well, yes…but…there are a few aspects to today’s announcement that I think are particularly noteworthy. Here’s a summary.

(more…)

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Posted in Application ILM, Cloud Computing, Data masking, Data Quality, Master Data Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, News & Announcements, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Salesforce.com Recognizes Informatica for Cloud Data Integration

This week we got the news that for the fifth year in a row, Informatica Cloud has won the 2012 Salesforce.com AppExchange Customer Choice Award.  Informatica Cloud Integration for Salesforce was recognized as the winner in the very crowded IT and Administration category, which includes administration and IT, data cleansing, integration, IT management and other applications.These awards are based on the number and quality of customer reviews on the AppExchange.  (more…)

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud Computing, Customers, Data Quality, Data Synchronization, Marketplace, News & Announcements, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Cloud Data Management Predictions

Ok, I know it’s a little late to post 2013 technology predictions, but with so many good ones published already, I figured I’d sandbag a little and not only post a few of my own but also share a few of my favorites so far. For me, it starts with Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends presentation. 2013 is going to be a year of “re-imagining” enterprise software, from social, to mobile, to cloud, to Big Data and Analytics.

I summarized my 2012 predictions in an earlier post and Informatica already posted some great predictions from the world of data. Here are my 2013 cloud data management predictions. (more…)

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Data Management, Integration Competency Centers, Master Data Management, PaaS, SaaS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment