Informatica Tackles SaaS Data Integration Issues with SaaS Offering
March 27, 2007 Alex Woodie
Informatica recently issued a new Web-based product, called On Demand Data Replicator, designed to move data from customers’ Salesforce.com accounts into relational database management systems (RDBMs). The software is based on Informatica’s industrial-strength PowerCenter extract, transform, and load (ETL) software, but runs in Informatica’s data centers instead of customer sites, easing IT workloads while addressing data integration issues.
As organizations continue to adopt software as a service (SaaS) offerings, they’re increasingly faced with data integration and fragmentation issues. Where data resides isn’t as big an issue when all of an organization’s data resides on its servers, protected behind firewalls, with fast LAN pipes. But when some of that data sits on your SaaS providers’ servers, located across the Web’s murky pipes, it can be more difficult to get a hold of that data so it can be integrated with other systems or address other needs.
Informatica began addressing the data fragmentation problem about two years ago as SaaS and virtualization began to take off. In the fall of 2005, the company unveiled PowerCenter 8, which took a more virtualized view of data and added grid-like execution capabilities for the ETL tool itself. Then, in May 2006, Informatica unveiled its first SaaS offering: a new connector for PowerCenter that allows users to extract data from their Salesforce.com accounts into the PowerCenter environment.
Now, Informatica has taken the next logical step and has, in effect, virtualized the PowerCenter product itself with On Demand Data Replicator, which became available earlier this month.
With On Demand Data Replicator, Informatica is offering a subset of PowerCenter capabilities to Salesforce.com CRM users who want to extract data, such as contact information, from Salesforce.com into a RDBMs–either SQL Server or Oracle–that the customer is running in-house.
The offering is composed of a secure agent, written in Java, that runs on a Windows or a Linux machine located on the customer’s LAN, and a browser-based console that workers use to define and schedule the data replications, which are actually executed on an implementation of PowerCenter running at a USi (now an AT&T subsidiary) data center in Maryland.
Once a user has set up the intended data transformation jobs using the browser interface, the secure agent handles all aspects of navigating the customer’s firewall and working with the PowerCenter implementation to download, over HTTP encrypted with SSL, their Salesforce.com data into the Oracle or SQL Server database.
Informatica has plans to expand the On Demand Data Replicator product, including two-way replication (currently it only supports downloads from Salesforce.com into RDBMs); support for additional RDBMs besides SQL Server and Oracle, such as IBM‘s DB2 UDB and DB2/400 (the company says it’s relatively easy to do, if a customer needs it); and support for additional SaaS offerings besides Salesforce.com, such as NetSuite and RightNow Technologies.
Informatica is also considering developing a SaaS version of its data quality software, so customers can clean their data as they move it, and do some basic massaging of the data. But whatever new SaaSy offerings Informatica unveils, it doesn’t intend SaaS to take over the heavy duty lifting currently done by PowerCenter, an enterprise-class ETL tool designed to move millions of records and with a price tag close to $200,000.
“These solutions are not an alternative to PowerCenter,” says John Hegstrom, director of product management for Informatica. “If a company wants to do relatively complex processing, with a lot of massaging, we’re not providing PowerCenter on the Internet with the same capabilities and the ability to make your own mapping. It’s task-based for specific problems.
“If you wanted to move IBM mainframe data to SAP, you would continue to use PowerCenter and Data Quality. Those are the caliber of tools you’d need to handle that,” Hegstrom says. “But if you like the simplify of the on-demand model, and want an integrated solution that’s licensed in the same SaaS model and can get up and running in a short amount of time, Data Replicator is the answer.”
Informatica is selling subscriptions for On Demand Data Replicator for $1,500 per month, which gives the user rights to move up to 100 MB of data per month. For more information, visit www.informatica.com.