RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Informatica Revamps Data Quality Toolset

What’s that you ask? Since when did Informatica become a data quality vendor?

Call out the instigators—whoever they are—because there must be something in the air. That’s the call to action which opens Thunderclap Newman’s cult-classic Woodstock-era anthem, but it could just as easily describe the frenzy of activity that seems to come over the data quality market each November.

Last year, there was Pitney Bowes Inc.’s ill-fated courtship of the former Firstlogic Corp., which—under mounting scrutiny from federal regulators—imploded in November of 2005. And in the first fortnight of this November, no less than three Data Quality power players have announced new versions of their flagship software—DataFlux, Pitney Bowes (which owns the assets of the former Group 1 Software), and Informatica Corp.

Informatica—which acquired data quality standalone vendor Similarity Systems in February—released new versions of its Informatica Data Quality 3.1 and Informatica Data Explorer 5.0 products.

The revamped Data Quality and Data Explorer boast tighter integration with Informatica’s PowerCenter ETL tool and deliver user productivity, security, internationalization, and performance enhancements, officials say. “[W]e are enabling data quality processes to be applied in a broader, easier and more powerful way … thus extending the abilities of both business and IT users to ensure data accuracy,” said Informatica’s Brian Gentile, in a prepared release.

The new data quality offerings are the first since Informatica acquired Similarity Systems earlier this year. For this reason and others, says James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis, they’re notable deliverables: “Informatica … needed to strengthen its standalone DQ product family to keep pace in this competitive niche. Informatica has moved with all deliberate speed to rebrand, integrate, and evolve the data profiling and cleansing tools it acquired from the former Similarity Systems.”

One big selling point—for Informatica customers, anyway—is improved integration with Informatica’s bread-and-butter PowerCenter ETL suite. Nor did Informatica satisfy itself with merely integrating both environments: it also announced PowerCenter Data Cleanse & Match (DC&M), a stripped down tool which incorporates a subset of Informatica Data Quality 3.1 capabilities, including name and address cleansing and limited internationalization features, into PowerCenter itself.

Elsewhere, both products boast improved data cleansing, matching, and quality monitoring capabilities, in this case, through a “workbench” console that lets data owners more easily define rules and metrics, as well as new “data quality scorecards.” Informatica Data Quality also bundles scalability and availability, internationalization, and security improvements, too, while Data Explorer 5.0 includes auto-profiling and source-target mapping improvements.

All things considered, says Kobielus, the acquisition of Similarity Systems was a savvy move on Informatica’s part.

“Informatica has moved far beyond its ETL legacy to challenge IBM, Business Objects, and SAS/DataFlux in the enterprise DQ market,” he comments. All isn’t sweetness and light, of course. “Informatica has not stated how the new features in IDQ 3.1 and IDE 5.0 figure into its roadmap for the software-as-a-service… market,” Kobielus points out. “[And] beyond its quick-start data-cleansing kit, Informatica has not introduced any DQ accelerators to expedite customer implementation of projects that involve data profiling and cleansing.”

Informatica has also been strangely silent on the MDM tip, Kobielus concludes. “[It] has still not developed an MDM roadmap in which it can leverage its best-of-breed DQ tools into further opportunities in customer data integration [CDI], product information management [PIM], and other use cases.”

About the Author


Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.

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