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Highlights from Informatica World 2016

Bigger than ever, with more user speakers and an impressive executive vision for product R&D

By Philip Russom, Senior Research Director for Data Management, TDWI

I just spent three days attending and speaking at Informatica World 2016 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Compared to previous years, this year’s event was bigger than ever, with over three thousand people in attendance and five or more simultaneous break-out tracks.

The change this year that I like most is the increased number of user case study speakers – almost double last year! To be honest, that’s my favorite part of any event, although I also like hearing executives explain their product vision and direction. With that in mind, allow me to share some highlights in those two areas, based on sessions I was able to attend at Informatica World 2016.

User Case Studies

I had the honor of sharing the stage with data integration veteran Tom Kato of Republic Services. Based on my research at TDWI, I talked about users’ trends toward integrated platforms that include tools for many data disciplines from a single vendor, as opposed to silo’d tools from multiple vendors. Tom talked about how an integrated tool strategy has played out successfully for his team at Republic Services. By adopting a comprehensive end-to-end toolset from Informatica, it was easier for them to design a comprehensive data architecture, with information lifecycle management that extends from data creation to purge.

I heard great tips by a speaker from Siemens about how their data lake is successful due to policies governing who can put data in the lake, what kind of data is allowed, and how the data is tagged and cataloged. “We saved six to twelve months by using simple flat schema in the data lake,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll add virtual dimensional models to some parts of the data lake to make it more like a data warehouse.”

A speaker from Harvard Business Publishing described a three-year migration and consolidation project, where they moved dozens of applications and datasets to clouds, both on premises and off-site (including AWS). They feel that Informatica Cloud and PowerCenter helped them move to clouds very quickly, which reduced the time that old and new systems ran concurrently with synchronization, which in turn reduced the costs and risks of migration.

Red Hat’s data warehouse architect explained his strategy for data warehouse modernization, based on modern data platforms, hybrid mixtures of clouds, complete views of customers, virtual technologies, and agile methods. Among those, clouds are the secret sauce – including Informatica Cloud, AWS, Redshift, and EC2 – because they provide the elasticity and performance Red Hat needs for the variety of analytic, reporting, and virtual workloads they run.

A dynamic duo from Verizon’s data warehouse team laid out their methods for success with clickstream analytics. They follow Gartner’s Bimodal IT approach, where old and new systems coexist and integrate. New tools capture and process clickstreams, and these are correlated with historic data in the older data warehouse. This is enabled by a hybrid architecture that integrates a mature Teradata implementation and a new Hadoop cluster, via data integration infrastructure by Informatica.

Another dynamic duo explained why and how they use Informatica Data Integration Hub (or simply DI Hub). “As a best practice, a data integration hub should connect four key entities,” said one of the Humana reps. “Those are source applications, publications of data, people who subscribe to the data, and a catalog of topics represented in the data.” Humana chose Informatica DI Hub because it suits their intended best practice, plus it supports additional requirements for a data fabric, virtual views, canonic model, data audit, and self service.

Executive Vision for Product R&D

The general sessions mostly featured keynote addresses by executives from Informatica and leading partner firms. For example, Informatica’s CEO Anil Chakravarthy discussed how Informatica technology is supporting Data 3.0, an emerging shift in data’s sources, types, technical management, and business use.

All the executive speakers were good, but I got the most out of the talk by Amit Walia, Informatica’s Chief Product Officer. It was like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Walia announced one new product, release, or capability after the next, including new releases of Informatica Cloud, Big Data Management, Data Integration Hub, and Master Data Management (with a cloud edition). Platform realignments are seen in Informatica Intelligent Data Platform (with Hadoop as a compute engine, controlled by a new Smart Executor) and Informatica Intelligent Streaming (based on Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, and Blaze); these reveal a deep commitment to modern open source software (OSS) in Informatica’s tool development strategy. One of Walia’s biggest announcements was the new Live Data Map, which will provide a large-scale framework for complex, multi-platform data integration, as is increasingly the case with modern data ecosystems.

That’s just a sample of what Amit Walia rolled out, and yet it’s a tsunami of new products and releases. So, what’s up with that? Well, to me it means that the acquisition of Informatica last year (which made it a private company) gave Informatica back the mojo that made it famous, namely a zeal and deep financial commitment to product research and development (R&D). Informatica already has a broad and comprehensive integrated platform, which addresses just about anything you’d do in traditional data management. But, with the old mojo for R&D back, I think we’ll soon see that portfolio broaden and deepen to address new requirements around big data, machine data, analytics, IoT, cloud, mobile, social media, hubs, open source, and security.

Informatica customers have always been the sort to keep growing into more data disciplines, more data types and sources, and the business value supported by those. In the near future, those users will have even more options and possibilities to grow into.

Further Learning

To get a feel for Informatica World 2016, start with a one-minute overview video

However, I strongly recommend that you “drink from the fire hose” by hearing Amit Walia’s 40-minute keynote, which includes his amazing catalog of new products and releases.

You might also go to www.YouTube.com and search for “Informatica World 2016,” where you’ll find many useful speeches and sessions that you can replay. For something uplifting, search for Jessica Jackley’s keynote about micro loans in the third world.

Posted by Philip Russom, Ph.D. on May 31, 2016


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