Tag Archives: cloud

Informatica Supports New Custom ODBC/JDBC Drivers for Amazon Redshift

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.

Redshift

To learn more, sign up for the free trial of Informatica’s Redshift connector for Informatica Cloud or PowerCenter.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Strata 2015 – Making Data Work for Everyone with Cloud Integration, Cloud Data Management and Cloud Machine Learning

Making Data Work for Everyone with Cloud Integration, Cloud Data Management and Cloud Machine Learning

Making Data Work for Everyone with Cloud

Are you ready to answer “Yes” to the questions:

a) “Are you Cloud Ready?”
b) “Are you Machine Learning Ready?”

I meet with hundreds of Informatica Cloud customers and prospects every year. While they are investing in Cloud, and seeing the benefits, they also know that there is more innovation out there. They’re asking me, what’s next for Cloud? And specifically, what’s next for Informatica in regards to Cloud Data Integration and Cloud Data Management? I’ll share more about my response throughout this blog post.

The spotlight will be on Big Data and Cloud at the Strata + Hadoop World conference taking place in Silicon Valley from February 17-20 with the theme  “Make Data Work”. I want to focus this blog post on two topics related to making data work and business insights:

  • How existing cloud technologies, innovations and partnerships can help you get ready for the new era in cloud analytics.
  • How you can make data work in new and advanced ways for every user in your company.

Today, Informatica is announcing the availability of its Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Microsoft Azure and Linux Virtual Machines as well as an Informatica Cloud Connector for Microsoft Azure Storage. Users of Azure data services such as Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning and Azure Data Factory can make their data work with access to the broadest set of data sources including on-premises applications, databases, cloud applications and social data. Read more from Microsoft about their news at Strata, including their relationship with Informatica, here.

“Informatica, a leader in data integration, provides a key solution with its Cloud Integration Secure Agent on Azure,” said Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President, Machine Learning, Microsoft. “Today’s companies are looking to gain a competitive advantage by deriving key business insights from their largest and most complex data sets. With this collaboration, Microsoft Azure and Informatica Cloud provide a comprehensive portfolio of data services that deliver a broad set of advanced cloud analytics use cases for businesses in every industry.”

Even more exciting is how quickly any user can deploy a broad spectrum of data services for cloud analytics projects. The fully-managed cloud service for building predictive analytics solutions from Azure and the wizard-based, self-service cloud integration and data management user experience of Informatica Cloud helps overcome the challenges most users have in making their data work effectively and efficiently for analytics use cases.

The new solution enables companies to bring in data from multiple sources for use in Azure data services including Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory and others – for advanced analytics.

The broad availability of Azure data services, and Azure Machine Learning in particular, is a game changer for startups and large enterprises. Startups can now access cloud-based advanced analytics with minimal cost and complexity and large businesses can use scalable cloud analytics and machine learning models to generate faster and more accurate insights from their Big Data sources.

Success in using machine learning requires not only great analytics models, but also an end-to-end cloud integration and data management capability that brings in a wide breadth of data sources, ensures that data quality and data views match the requirements for machine learning modeling, and an ease of use that facilitates speed of iteration while providing high-performance and scalable data processing.

For example, the Informatica Cloud solution on Azure is designed to deliver on these critical requirements in a complementary approach and support advanced analytics and machine learning use cases that provide customers with key business insights from their largest and most complex data sets.

Using the Informatica Cloud solution on Azure connector with Informatica Cloud Data Integration enables optimized read-write capabilities for data to blobs in Azure Storage. Customers can use Azure Storage objects as sources, lookups, and targets in data synchronization tasks and advanced mapping configuration tasks for efficient data management using Informatica’s industry leading cloud integration solution.

As Informatica fulfills the promise of “making great data ready to use” to our 5,500 customers globally, we continue to form strategic partnerships and develop next-generation solutions to stay one step ahead of the market with our Cloud offerings.

My goal in 2015 is to help each of our customers say that they are Cloud Ready! And collaborating with solutions such as Azure ensures that our joint customers are also Machine Learning Ready!

To learn more, try our free Informatica Cloud trial for Microsoft Azure data services.

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What’s All the Mania Around SaaS Data?

SaaSIt’s no secret that the explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps has revolutionized the way businesses operate. From humble beginnings, the titans of SaaS today include companies such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Marketo, and Workday that have gone public and attained multi-billion dollar valuations.  The success of these SaaS leaders has had a domino effect in adjacent areas of the cloud – infrastructure, databases, and analytics.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), which originally had only six services in 2006 with the launch of Amazon EC2, now has over 30 ranging from storage, relational databases, data warehousing, Big Data, and more. Salesforce.com’s Wave platform, Tableau Software, and Qlik have made great advances in the cloud analytics arena, to give better visibility to line-of-business users. And as SaaS applications embrace new software design paradigms that extend their functionality, application performance monitoring (APM) analytics has emerged as a specialized field from vendors such as New Relic and AppDynamics.

So, how exactly did the growth of SaaS contribute to these adjacent sectors taking off?

The growth of SaaS coincided with the growth of powerful smartphones and tablets. Seeing this form factor as important to the end user, SaaS companies rushed to produce mobile apps that offered core functionality on their mobile device. Measuring adoption of these mobile apps was necessary to ensure that future releases met all the needs of the end user. Mobile apps contain a ton of information such as app responsiveness, features utilized, and data consumed. As always, there were several types of users, with some preferring a laptop form factor over a smartphone or tablet. With the ever increasing number of data points to measure within a SaaS app, the area of application performance monitoring analytics really took off.

Simultaneously, the growth of the SaaS titans cemented their reputation as not just applications for a certain line-of-business, but into full-fledged platforms. This growth emboldened a number of SaaS startups to develop apps that solved specialized or even vertical business problems in healthcare, warranty-and-repair, quote-to-cash, and banking. To get started quickly and scale rapidly, these startups leveraged AWS and its plethora of services.

The final sector that has taken off thanks to the growth of SaaS is the area of cloud analytics. SaaS grew by leaps and bounds because of its ease of use, and rapid deployment that could be achieved by business users. Cloud analytics aims to provide the same ease of use for business users when providing deep insights into data in an interactive manner.

In all these different sectors, what’s common is the fact that SaaS growth has created an uptick in the volume of data and the technologies that serve to make it easier to understand. During Informatica’s Data Mania event (March 4th, San Francisco) you’ll find several esteemed executives from Salesforce, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, Dun & Bradstreet, Qlik, Marketo, and AppDynamics talk about the importance of data in the world of SaaS.

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Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Application Integration, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Cloud Data Management, SaaS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Being a CIO Today Requires More Than a Service Broker Orientation

cloud service brokerIn my discussions with CIOs, their opinions differ widely about the go forward nature of the CIO role. While most feel the CIO role will remain an important function, they also feel a sea state change is in process. According to Tim Crawford, a former CIO and strategic advisor to CIOs, “CIOs are getting out of the data center business”. In my discussions, not all yet see the complete demise for their data centers. However, it is becoming more common for CIOs to see themselves “becoming an orchestrator of business services versus a builder of new operational services”. One CIO put it this way, “the building stuff is now really table stakes. Cloud and loosely oriented partnerships are bringing vendor management to the forefront”.

cloud service brokerAs more and more of the service portfolio are provided by third parties in either infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or software as a service (SaaS) modes, the CIO needs to take on what will become an increasingly important role –the service broker. An element of the service broker role that will have increasingly importance is the ability to glue together business systems w6hether they are on premise, cloud managed (Iaas), or software as a service (Saas). Regardless of who creates or manages the applications of the enterprise, it is important to remember that integration is to a large degree the nervous system that connects applications into business capabilities. As such, the CIO’s team has a critical and continuing role in managing this linkage. For example, spaghetti code integrations can easily touch 20 or more systems for ERP or expense management systems.

Brokering integration services

As CIOs start to consider the move to cloud, they need to determine how this nervous system is connected, maintained, and improved. In particular, they need to determine maybe for the first time how to integrate their cloud systems to the rest of their enterprise systems. They clearly can continue to do so by building and maintaining hand coding or by using their existing ETL tools. This can work where one takes on an infrastructure as a service model. But it falls apart when looking at the total cost of ownership of managing the change of a SaaS model. This fact begs an interesting question. Shouldn’t the advantages of SaaS occur as well for integration? Shouldn’t there be Cloud Data Management (Integration as a Service)options? The answer is yes. Instead of investing in maintain integrations of SaaS systems which because of agile methodologies can change more frequently than traditional software development, couldn’tsomeone else manage this mess for me.

The advantage of the SaaS model is total cost of ownership and faster time to value. Instead of managing, integration between SaaS and historical environments, the integration between SaaS applications and historical applications can be maintained by the cloud data Management vendor. This would save both  cost and time. As well, it would free you to focus your team’s energy upon cleaning up the integrations between historical systems and each other. This is a big advantage for organizations trying to get on the SaaS bandwagon but not incur significantly increased costs as a result.

Definitions please

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—Provides processor, databases, etc. remotely but you control and maintain what goes on them

Software as a Service (Saas)—Provides software applications and underling infrastructure as a Service

Cloud Data Management—Provides Integration of applications in particular SaaS applications as a service

Parting remarks

CIOs are embarking upon big changes. Building stuff is becoming less and less relevant. However, even as more and more services are managed remotely (even by other parties), it remains critical that CIOs and their teams manage the glue between applications. With SaaS application in particular, this is where Cloud Data Management can really help you control integrations with less time and cost.

Related links

Solution Brief:

Hybrid IT Integration

Related Blogs

What is the Role of the CIO in Driving Enterprise Analytics?

IT Is All About Data!

The Secret To Being A Successful CIO

Driving IT Business Alignment: One CIOs Journey

How Is The CIO Role Starting To Change?

The CIO Challenged

Author Twitter: @MylesSuer

 

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Government and Cloud – Their Journey to the Altar

cloudsIf you work for or with the government and you care about the cloud, you’ve probably already read the recent MeriTalk report, “Cloud Without the Commitment”. As well, you’ve probably also read numerous opinions about the report. In fact, one of Informatica’s guest bloggers, David Linthicum, just posted his thoughts. As I read the report and the various opinions, I was struck by the seemingly, perhaps, unintentional suggestion that (sticking with MeriTalk’s dating metaphor) the “commitment issues” are a government problem. Mr. Linthicum’s perspective is “there is really no excuse for the government to delay migration to cloud-based platforms” and “It’s time to see some more progress”, suggesting that the onus in on government to move forward.

Hm…

I do agree that, leveraged properly, there’s much more value to be extracted from the cloud by government. Further, I agree that cloud technologies have sufficiently matured to the point that it is feasible to consider migrating mission critical applications. Yet, is it possible that the government’s “fear of commitment” is, in some ways, justified?

Consider this stat from the MeriTalk report – only half (53%) of the respondents rate their experience with the cloud as very successful. That suggests the experience of the other half, as MeriTalk words it, “leave(s) something to be desired.” If I’m a government decision maker and I’m tasked with keeping mission critical systems up and sensitive data safe, am I going to jump at the opportunity to leverage an approach that only half of my peers are satisfied with? Maybe, maybe not.

Now factor this in:

  • 53% are concerned about being locked into a contract where the average term is 3.6 years
  • 58% believe cloud providers do not provide standardized services, thus creating lock in

Back to playing government decision maker, if I do opt to move applications to the cloud, once I get there, I’m bound to that particular provider – contractually and, at least to some extent, technologically. How comfortable am I with the notion of rewriting/rehosting my mission-critical, custom application to run in XYZ cloud? Good question, right?

Inevitably, government agencies will end up with mission-critical systems and sensitive data in the cloud, however, successful “marriages” are hard, making them a bit of a rare commodity

Do I believe government has a “fear of commitment”? Nah, I just see their behavior as prudent caution on their way to the altar.

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Cloud & BigData: Days of Future Past

silos_clouds-data_integrationA lot of the trends we are seeing in enterprise integration today are being driven by the adoption of cloud based technologies from IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. I just was reading this story about a recent survey on cloud adoption and thought that a lot of this sounds very similar to things that we have seen before in enterprise IT.

Why discuss this? What can we learn? A couple of competing quotes come to mind.

Those who forget the past are bound to repeat it. – Edmund Burke

We are doomed to repeat the past no matter what. – Kurt Vonnegut

While every enterprise has to deal with their own complexities there are several past technology adoption patterns that can be used to drive discussion and compare today’s issues in order to drive decisions in how a company designs and deploys their current enterprise cloud architecture. Flexibility in design should be a key goal in addition to satisfying current business and technical requirements. So, what are the big patterns we have seen in the last 25 years that have shaped the cloud integration discussion?

1. 90s: Migration and replacement at the solution or application level. A big trend of the 90s was replacing older home grown systems or main frame based solutions with new packaged software solutions. SAP really started a lot of this with ERP and then we saw the rise of additional solutions for CRM, SCM, HRM, etc.

This kept a lot of people that do data integration very busy. From my point of view this era was very focused on replacement of technologies and this drove a lot of focus on data migration. While there were some scenarios around data integration to leave solutions in place these tended to be more in the area of systems that required transactional integrity and high level of messaging or back office solutions. On the classic front office solutions enterprises in large numbers did rip & replace and migration to new solutions.

2. 00s: Embrace and extend existing solutions with web applications. The rise of the Internet Browser combined with a popular and powerful standard programming language in Java shaped and drove enterprise integration in this time period. In addition, due to many of the mistakes and issues that IT groups had in the 90s there appeared to be a very strong drive to extend existing investments and not do rip and replace. IT and businesses were trying to figure out how to add new solutions to what they had in place. A lot of enterprise integration, service bus and what we consider as classic application development and deployment solutions came to market and were put in place.

3. 00s: Adoption of new web application based packaged solutions. A big part of this trend was driven by .Net & Java becoming more or less the de-facto desired language of enterprise IT. Software vendors not on these platforms were for the most part forced to re-platform or lose customers. New software vendors in many ways had an advantage because enterprises were already looking at large data migration to upgrade the solutions they had in place. In either case IT shops were looking to be either a .Net or Java shop and it caused a lot of churn.

4. 00s: First generation cloud applications and platforms. The first adoption of cloud applications and platforms were driven by projects and specific company needs. From Salesforce.com being used just for sales management before it became a platform to Amazon being used as just a run-time to develop and deploy applications before it became a full scale platform and an every growing list of examples as every vendor wants to be the cloud platform of choice. The integration needs originally were often on the light side because so many enterprises treated it as an experiment at first or a one off for a specific set of users. This has changed a lot in the last 10 years as many companies repeated their on premise silo of data problems in the cloud as they usage went from one cloud app to 2, 5, +10, etc. In fact, if you strip away where a solution happens to be deployed (on prem or cloud) the reality is that if an enterprise had previously had a poorly planned on premise architecture and solution portfolio they probably have just as poorly planned cloud architecture solution and portfolio. Adding them together just leads to disjoint solutions that are hard to integrate, hard to maintain and hard to evolve. In other words the opposite of the being flexible goal.

5. 10s: Consolidation of technology and battle of the cloud platforms. It appears we are just getting started in the next great market consolidation and every enterprise IT group is going to need to decide their own criteria for how they balance current and future investments. Today we have Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Apple, SAP and a few others. In 10 years some of these will either not exist as they do today or be marginalized. No one can say which ones for sure and this is why prioritizing flexibility in terms or architecture for cloud adoption.

For me the main take aways from the past 25 years of technology adoption trends for anyone that thinks about enterprise and data integration would be the following.

a) It’s all starts and ends with data. Yes, applications, process, and people are important but it’s about the data.

b) Coarse grain and loosely coupled approaches to integration are the most flexible. (e.g. avoid point to point at all costs)

c) Design with the knowledge of what data is critical and what data might or should be accessible or movable

d) Identify data and applications that might have to stay where it is no matter what.(e.g. the main frame is never dying)

e) Make sure your integration and application groups have access to or include someone that understand security. While a lot of integration developers think they understand security it’s usually after the fact that you find out they really do not.

So, it’s possible to shape your cloud adoption and architecture future by at least understanding how past technology and solution adoption has shaped the present. For me it is important to remember it is all about the data and prioritizing flexibility as a technology requirement at least at the same level as features and functions. Good luck.

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Real-time Data Puts CEO in Charge of Customer Relationships

real-time_data

Real Time Data good for better Customer Relationships

In 2014, Informatica Cloud focused a great deal of attention on the needs and challenges of the citizen integrator. These are the critical business users at the core of every company: The customer-facing sales rep at the front, as well as the tireless admin at the back. We all know and rely on these men and women. And up until very recently, they’ve been almost entirely reliant on IT for the integration tasks and processes needed to be successful at their jobs.

A lot of that has changed over the last year or so. In a succession of releases, we provided these business users with the tools to take matters into their hands. And with the assistance of key ecosystem partners, such as Salesforce, SAP, Amazon, Workday, NetSuite and the hundreds of application developers that orbit them, we’ve made great progress toward giving business users the self-sufficiency they need, and demand. But, beyond giving these users the tools to integrate and connect with their apps and information at will, what we’ve really done is give them the ability to focus their attention and efforts on their most valuable customers. By doing so, we have got to core of the real purpose and importance of the whole cloud project or enterprise: The customer relationship.

In a recent Fortune interview, Salesforce CEO and cloud evangelist Marc Benioff echoed that idea when he stated that “The CEO is now in charge of the customer relationship.” What he meant by that is companies now have the ability to tie all aspects of their marketing – website, customer service, email marketing, social, sales, etc. – into “one canonical file” with all the respective customer information. By organizing the enterprise around the customer this way, the company can then pivot all of their efforts toward the customer relationship, which is what is required if a business is going to have and sustain success as we move through the 2010s and beyond.

We are in complete agreement with Marc and think it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to declare 2015 as the year of the customer relationship. In fact, helping companies and business users focus their attention toward the customer has been a core focus of ours for some time. For an example, you don’t have to look much further than the latest iteration of our real-time application integration capability.

In a short video demo that I recommend to everyone, my colleague Eric does a fantastic job of walking users through the real-time features available through the Informatica Cloud platform.

As the demo demonstrates, the real-time features let you build a workflow process application that interacts with data from cloud and on-premise sources right from the Salesforce user interface (UI). It’s quick and easy, thus allowing you to devote more time to your customers and less time on “plumbing.”

The workflows themselves are created with the help of a drag-and-drop process designer that enables the user to quickly create a new process and configure the parameters, inputs and outputs, and decision steps with the click of a few buttons.

Once the process guide is created, it displays as a window embedded right in the Salesforce UI. So if, for example, you’ve created an opportunity-to-order guide, you can follow a wizard-driven process that walks your users from new opportunity creation through to the order confirmation, and everything in between.

As users move through the process, they can interact in real time with data from any on-premise or cloud-based source they choose. In the example from the video, the user, Eric, chooses a likely prospect from a list of company contacts, and with a few keystrokes creates a new opportunity in Salesforce.  In a further demonstration of the real-time capability, Eric performs a NetSuite query, logs a client call, escalates a case to customer service, pulls the latest price book information from an Oracle database, builds out the opportunity items, creates the order in SAP, and syncs it all back to Salesforce, all without leaving the wizard interface.

The capabilities available via Informatica Cloud’s application integration are a gigantic leap forward for business users and an evolutionary step toward pivoting the enterprise toward the customer. As 2015 takes hold we will see this become increasingly important as companies continue to invest in the cloud. This is especially true for those cloud applications, like the Salesforce Analytics, Marketing and Sales Clouds, that need immediate access to the latest and most reliable customer data to make them all work — and truly establish you as the CEO in charge of customer relationships.

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How Great Data in the Cloud Can Make for Greater Business Outcomes

Great Cloud Data Improves Business Outcomes

Great Cloud Data Improves Business Outcomes

The technology you use in your business can either help or hinder your business objectives.

In the past, slow and manual processes had an inhibiting effect on customer services and sales interactions, thus dragging down the bottom line.

Now, with cloud technology and customers interacting at record speeds, companies expect greater returns from each business outcome. What do I mean when I say business outcome?

Well according to Bluewolf’s State of Salesforce Report, you can split these into four categories: acquisition, expansion, retention and cost reduction.

With the right technology and planning, a business can speedily acquire more customers, expand to new markets, increase customer retention and ensure they are doing all of this efficiently and cost effectively. But what happens when the data or the way you’re interacting with these technologies grow unchecked, and/or becomes corrupted and unreliable.

With data being the new fuel for decision-making, you need to make sure it’s clean, safe and reliable.

With clean data, Salesforce customers, in the above-referenced Bluewolf survey, reported efficiency and productivity gains (66%), improved customer experience (34%), revenue growth (32%) and cost reduction (21%) in 2014.

It’s been said that it costs a business 10X more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. But, despite the additional cost, real continued growth requires the acquisition of new customers.

Gaining new customers, however, requires a great sales team who knows what and to whom they’re selling. With Salesforce, you have that information at your fingertips, and the chance to let your sales team be as good as they can possibly be.

And this is where having good data fits in and becomes critically important. Because, well, you can have great technology, but it’s only going to be as good as the data you’re feeding it.

The same “garbage in, garbage out” maxim holds true for practically any data-driven or –reliant business process or outcome, whether it’s attracting new customers or building a brand. And with the Salesforce Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud you have the technology to both attract new customers and build great brands, but if you’re feeding your Clouds with inconsistent and fragmented data, you can’t trust that you’ve made the right investments or decisions in the right places.

The combination of good data and technology can help to answer so many of your critical business questions. How do I target my audience without knowledge of previous successes? What does my ideal customer look like? What did they buy? Why did they buy it?

For better or worse, but mainly better, answering those questions with just your intuition and/or experience is pretty much out of the question. Without the tool to look at, for example, past campaigns and sales, and combining this view to see who your real market is, you’ll never be fully effective.

The same is true for sales. Without the right Leads, and the ability to interact with these Leads effectively, i.e., having the right contact details, company, knowing there’s only one version of that record, can make the discovery process a long and painful one.

But customer acquisition isn’t the only place where data plays a vital role.

When expanding to new markets or upselling and cross selling to existing customers, it’s the data you collect and report on that will help inform where you should focus your efforts.

Knowing what existing relationships you can leverage can make the difference between proactively offering solutions to your customers and losing them to a competitor. With Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud, this visibility that used to take weeks and months to view can now be put together in a matter of minutes. But how do you make strategic decisions on what market to tap into or what relationships to leverage, if you can only see one or two regions? What if you could truly visualize how you interact with your customers?  Or see beyond the hairball of interconnected business hierarchies and interactions to know definitively what subsidiary, household or distributor has what? Seeing the connections you have with your customers can help uncover the white space that you could tap into.

Naturally this entire process means nothing if you’re not actually retaining these customers. Again, this is another area that is fuelled by data. Knowing who your customers are, what issues they’re having and what they could want next could help ensure you are always providing your customer with the ultimate experience.

Last, but by no means least, there is cost reduction. Only by ensuring that all of this data is clean — and continuously cleansed — and your Cloud technologies are being fully utilized, can you then help ensure the maximum return on your Cloud investment.

Learn more about how Informatica Cloud can help you maximize your business outcomes through ensuring your data is trusted in the Cloud.

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Cloud Integration Issues? Look to the Enterprise Architects

Cloud Integration and Enterprise Architects

Cloud Integration and Enterprise Architects

According to an article by Jan Stafford, “When enterprises adopt cloud computing, many of their legacy methods of software integration are instantly obsolete. Hanging on to old integration methods is like trying to fit square pegs into round holes…”

It’s true.  Data integration is a whole new game, compared to five years ago, or, in some organizations, five minutes ago.  The right approaches to data integration continue to evolve around a few principal forces: First, the growth of cloud computing, as pointed out by Stafford.  Second, the growing use of big data systems, and the emerging use of data as a strategic asset for the business.

These forces combine to drive us to the understanding that old approaches to data integration won’t provide the value that they once did.  As someone who was a CTO of three different data integration companies, I’ve seen these patterns change over the time that I was building technology, and that change has accelerated in the last 7 years.

The core opportunities lie with the enterprise architect, and their ability to drive an understanding of the value of data integration, as well as drive change within their organization.  After all, they, or the enterprises CTOs and CIOs (whomever makes decisions about technological approaches), are supposed to drive the organization in the right technical directions that will provide the best support for the business.  While most enterprise architects follow the latest hype, such as cloud computing and big data, many have missed the underlying data integration strategies and technologies that will support these changes.

“The integration challenges of cloud adoption alone give architects and developers a once in a lifetime opportunity to retool their skillsets for a long-term, successful career, according to both analysts. With the right skills, they’ll be valued leaders as businesses transition from traditional application architectures, deployment methodologies and sourcing arrangements.”

The problem is that, while most agree that data integration is important, they typically don’t understand what it is, and the value it can bring.  These days, many developers live in a world of instant updates.  With emerging DevOps approaches and infrastructure, they really don’t get the need, or the mechanisms, required to share data between application or database silos.  In many instances, they resort to coding interfaces between source and target systems.  This leads to brittle and unreliable integration solutions, and thus hurts and does not help new cloud application and big data deployments.

The message is clear: Those charged with defining technology strategies within enterprises need to also focus on data integration approaches, methods, patterns, and technologies.  Failing to do so means that the investments made in new and emerging technology, such as cloud computing and big data, will fail to provide the anticipated value.  At the same time, enterprise architects need to be empowered to make such changes.  Most enterprises are behind on this effort.  Now it’s time to get to work.

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Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData: What You Need to Know

Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData

Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData

Last month, Salesforce announced that they are democratizing integration through the introduction of Salesforce1 Lightning Connect. This new capability makes it possible to work with data that is stored outside of Salesforce using the same force.com constructs (SOQL, Apex, VisualForce, etc) that are used with Salesforce objects. The important caveat is that that external data has to be available through the OData protocol, and the provider of that protocol has to be accessible from the internet.

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.

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Posted in B2B, Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Data Governance | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment