Informatica Unveils 18-Month Roadmap for Enterprise ETL
March 1, 2005 Alex Woodie
Informatica today began shipping the first of three new planned versions of its PowerCenter product, an extract, transform, and load (ETL) tool used for building data warehouses and other IT projects that require moving massive amounts of data among various systems, including iSeries. The Advanced Edition brings new metadata and analysis features, and will be followed with new PowerCenter releases in the falls of 2005 and 2006 as part of an 18-month product roadmap Informatica unveiled last week.
PowerCenter’s ETL capability forms the basis many different projects at IT shops, including business intelligence, data synchronization, data migration, consolidation, and gaining that “single view” of your data. In support of these activities, PowerCenter delivers features like scalability for handling large data sets, real-time processing, data cleansing (with third-party or Informatica lists), audit logging, and others.
The ever-increasing number of data types and the constantly growing mountain of data is continually testing the capability of enterprises to manage their data efficiently. Companies that are running geographically dispersed and cross-platform data centers are especially at risk here. These are the types of customers that Informatica is targeting with its new PowerCenter Advanced Edition, which introduces features like “SuperGlue” metadata analysis, “PowerAnalyzer” reporting capabilities, team-based development, and “server-grid,” or distributed computing, to help enterprises centrally manage their integration and data movement requirements.
PowerAnalyzer delivers a series of dashboards and reports that gather and display metadata from a variety of systems, so administrators and data warehouse users can keep an eye on their data. A wizard helps them tailor their reports so they only display information that is relevant to them, thereby decreasing developers’ report maintenance duties. Informatica says it has a patent pending for this PowerAnalyzer technique.
PowerAnalyzer also integrates closely with Excel to provide up-to-the-minute updates to changing data. The data monitoring component requires data to be piped in via either Java Message Service (JMS) or some kind of messaging bus, such as IBM‘s WebSphere MQ, or those from TIBCO or webMethods.
The SuperGlue metadata analysis component is designed to help companies get a bigger and better picture of the various types of data residing on their systems, so that it can be managed more accurately and efficiently. SuperGlue delivers Web-based reports and graphics that help users monitor and assess the quality, content, usage, and performance of their data. SuperGlue also provides an audit log of data, which Informatica calls its “Intelligent Lineage” feature that helps companies answer questions like: “Where did this data come from? How was this result calculated? How is it being used? And are we consistent and compliant?”
The new team-based development capability in PowerCenter Advanced Edition is designed to reduce errors among geographically dispersed PowerCenter developers and to promote the reuse of objects such as source definitions, target definitions, codified business rules, metadata, and end user reports. It delivers change management and version control, audit logs and roll-back, and automated deployment capabilities.
The Server Grid capability allows workflow execution to be distributed across multiple networked, heterogeneous CPU nodes or machines, in support of increased scalability and performance. It allows PowerCenter workloads to be distributed among 32-bit and 64-bit workstations or servers running Windows, Linux, and Unix. (While PowerCenter does support OS/400 as a source and a target, the PowerCenter engine itself does not run on iSeries.)
Server Grid can allow customers to put underutilized X86 servers to better use. But PowerCenter also supports more advanced server architectures, as demonstrated by a recent benchmark that Informatica published that showed impressive scalability of PowerCenter running on a Hewlett-Packard Superdome server equipped with 64-bit Itanium 2 processors and HP-UX.
Licenses for PowerCenter Advanced Edition start at $180,000, compared to the $140,000 starting price for PowerCenter Standard Edition.
Zeus & Hercules
Informatica also laid out its vision of data integration as part of an 18-month roadmap for PowerCenter, of which Advanced Edition was the first installment. The next two releases of the product, code-named “Zeus” and “Hercules,” will focus on further extending the product’s “cross-enterprise” deployment capabilities, and delivering a single integration platform for a broader number of users.
Zeus will focus on delivering better fault-tolerant and failover capabilities across multiple servers, support for custom transformations written in Java, RSA Security encryption, and support for unstructured and semi-structured data and “standards-based exchange” of SWIFT, FIX, HL7, and UCCNET documents.
Hercules will be Informatica’s service oriented architecture (SOA) release. The company says Hercules will deliver a single point of integration for all types of data and will fulfill the promise of “full demand” integration with no constraints on how, when, or where data is captured, integrated, and delivered. A single “data surface” will be introduced that provides consistent and smooth access to integrated data, the company says, while integration with third-party tools will also benefit due to a new interface or interfaces.
Girish Pancha, executive vice president of products at Informatica, says it’s all about giving customers the choice to integrate their data in different ways, but all from the same product platform. “Giving customers the flexibility to integrate and deliver data in batch, change, real-time or ‘on the fly’ modes–or a blend of all four–will speed deployment of integration projects and broaden data-access capabilities to more users across the organization,” Pancha says.