Two linked items caught my eye recently from our friends at Informatica. They have launched Informatica Marketplace, an “ecosystem” for buying, selling and even developing data integration, data management and data quality related products. They are also putting their weight behind a new methodology “Lean Integration”.

Looking at Informatica Marketplace first. This is a place for buying and selling add-ons - everything from sexy bits of specialist code to full software testing suites that would be useful to Informatica’s customers. If you don’t find what you want (and as a start-up the site, although commendably well stocked, it can not be expected to be exhaustive) you can put up a request in case someone is sitting on the item you want or maybe can get one into production for you.

The Informatica description of these items is “Blocks”. They insist that this is an open market place, even to the extent that competitors would be a given a chance to display their offerings. Informatica warrants their items with a “Seal of Approval” (I’m not sure how this works for requested services) to show that the item will do what it says on the tin.

This development is interesting on a number of levels. First of all, if you are an Informatica shop and you are looking for a widget, or have developed a widget that performs a function that would be of use to someone else, then it’s great that you get to access it on this kind of platform.

This may of course break the longstanding IT tradition of constantly re-inventing the wheel but that can only be a good thing.
It also, obviously, helps to build brand loyalty both amongst end customers and Informatica’s partners.

Finally, and this links in to “Lean Integration”, it aligns with a more open, collaborative approach to technology development, deployment and benefit realisation. The monolithic, single source of supply jealously guarding its marketplace is giving way to the more modern linked up world. We’ve all seen the success of Apple, which is in good part dependant on the success of its Appstore third party software.

How much of this is down to the pressure of competitors like Talend and their avowed open software model pushing its larger rivals, and how much is down to a positive attraction for the benefits of leveraging the infinitely larger pool of enterprising, imaginative folk there are out there in the world, is a moot point. Either way, if it works maybe we could all be winners.

I say “we” but here I really mean all those in the Informatica community. And here is the rub. Despite their protestations that this is an open community where competition is welcomed, I don’t really expect that they would allow a competitor to make a genuine running against one of their core products. Nor should we of course. But for the Informatica community this is a move to be welcomed if it speeds up the development and distribution of products that their marketplace needs.

On to “Lean Integration”: Ostensibly independent but co-written by John Schmidt (VP, Global ICC Practice, Informatica) and David Lyle (VP, Product Strategy, Informatica) and marketed through their web presence, this may well be a significant step in the recognition, by a market leading player, that we need more than just good software to manage the complexities of data integration. It is also a departure because it bravely exposes to peer review a statement of the delivery sophistication of this vendor – albeit at arms length. Now those with long memories may recall that some time ago I was less than complimentary about Informatica’s “Velocity” methodology as an approach to dealing with Data Migration. Lean Integration comes in a far more comprehensive 400 page book which I am yet to fully digest. I also have a call this week with Informatica so I’ll give you my full comments in next week’s blog, however first impressions are that it is far better, more rounded and not just a minimum, product wrap.

A key question is, of course, how will the rest of the market respond? We know that DataFlux is going down the PDM Compliance route. Other software vendors are still, to an extent, lurking behind partially exposed proprietary best practice approaches. Or even worse, hinting that they have a methodology when all they can demonstrate is how to configure and deploy their products.

As to the Systems Integrators, these tend to be more in the latter camp than the former. Again, we are speaking to some of them about PDM. But how will these other players react? Is Informatica accommodating enough to allow other, significant, direct competitors the use both of their market place and their methodology? Will the industry solidify around a de-facto standard so closely linked to one vendor or will there be a free for all with other players externalising their thinking? How would a plethora of competing methods help the end customer trying to run a migration programme? What opportunity does this present for PDM as the longest standing, vendor neutral method?

But enough for one week - these are questions I will be addressing in next week’s blog.

Interesting times ahead, but I compliment Informatica on this potentially paradigm altering challenge.

About the author

John Morris has over 20 years experience in IT as a programmer, business analyst, project manager and data architect. He has spent the last 10 years working exclusively on data migration and system integration projects. John is the author of Practical Data Migration.