Have Data, Will Migrate: Informatica Announces Integrated Suite

Informatica says it can help accelerate data migrations while reducing risk.

At last week's TDWI World Conference, Informatica Corp. made a surprising product announcement. The data integration specialist, which is one of the leading purveyors of best-of-breed data integration, data quality, and (via its partnership with Composite Software) data federation, announced its first ever Data Migration Suite.

The surprise, of course, is that it took so long. With all of the pieces of a dedicated data migration offering already on hand -- including data profiling, data quality, and connectivity for legacy CICS, IMS, VSAM, and other mainframe data sources -- why did Informatica wait until now to deliver its suite?

According to Don Tirsell, senior director of product marketing with Informatica, it really was a question of doing it right. Informatica's new migration offering isn't just an integration software or data-source connectivity play, Tirsell points out: it also has a services component, a best-practices or methodological component, and several other components (including data quality) that Tirsell says Informatica honed in the field.

How does data migration differ from data integration? In most cases, Tirsell says, it involves the moving of data off of one platform, typically as a means to either phase-out (and eventually pull the plug on) a legacy system, or -- just as likely -- to upgrade or transition from one application or platform to another.

"Data migration is really a broad product category; it pertains to implementing ERP or trying to move off of a mainframe, or implementing a center of excellence for M&A," he told BI This Week, "so data migration pertains to a different purpose than a data warehouse. It's to implement an application. It's consolidating data from someone I just acquired into my systems, or maybe I'm moving off of a mainframe -- that's classic legacy migration."

That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, according to Tirsell. "There's instance consolidation. A lot of companies have multiple ERP systems that are duplicating the same business processes, and they want to move them into a separate company," he observes. "There's an array of these projects, and research shows that it's just like the old data-mart days. There's the perception that [data migration is] a big bang, code, load, and explode problem."

It's a potentially lucrative problem for Informatica: Tirsell cites a recent report from Bloor Research that projects that Global 2000 companies will spend more than $8 billion on data migration by 2012. In spite of how much they're spending on data migration, companies are still getting mixed results. The Bloor study found that 84 percent of the projects studied came in late or over budget, resulting in cost overruns that averaged about 30 percent. "We're trying to get the market to realize that data migration is a big problem," he says.

Enter Informatica's first-ever Data Migration Suite. It's a packaged offering that includes Informatica's PowerExchange, PowerCenter, Data Explorer, and Data Quality. Its "special sauce" comes via packages from Informatica Professional Services, as well as from Informatica's Velocity Migration Methodology, which Tirsell describes as "a best-practices guide for successful migration ... [a] process we developed to iterate through" the migration experience.

"We've done a lot of research of our customer base to see what people are really doing, because people have been using our technology for migrations for a long time," he says. "With our professional services using our software to do migrations with customers, analyzing the roles involved, and trying to have an end-to-end solution that brings the right parties into the process, we've added migration-specific tools to help fill some of those gaps that weren't part of our standard platform."

However, Tirsell rejects the suggestion that Informatica cooked up its Data Migration Suite simply as a means to sell customers more services: "Informatica does not … ever sell services first. We're a product and solutions company. In many instances yes, there will be a services component to the [data migration] projects, but that's [i.e., the selling of services] is not what this is about."

What it is also about, Tirsell says, is giving customers appropriate tools on an integrated platform with flexible licensing for the job. Purchasing each of Informatica's tools separately -- e.g., PowerExchange for data access, PowerCenter for data integration, Data Explorer for profiling, and Data Quality for data quality -- would be prohibitively expensive, he says. Data Migration Suite gives customers more flexibility in terms of how they license these technologies.

"This package is offered in two ways: a full-use, perpetual license, as well as a term license," he explains. "[There's] a perception that data migration is a short-term, six-month project, when in reality, when people get into the trenches, it usually spans much longer than that. To sell into the perceptions that it's a one-time-shot kind of thing, we're offering a data migration suite with a term-based license, so you can rent it for six months and extend it with the option to go perpetual if you find that's what you need."

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