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Trip Report: What I Learned at Informatica World 2015

Inspirational User Case Studies and Educational Product Demonstrations

By Philip Russom, TDWI Research Director for Data Management

When I attend a user group meeting or a vendor’s conference, my top two priorities are (1) to hear case studies from successful users and (2) to see practical demonstrations of the vendor’s products. I got both of those in spades last week, when I spent three days attending Informatica World 2015 in Las Vegas.

It was a huge conference, with about 2,500 people attending and five or more tracks running simultaneously. I couldn’t attend all these sessions, so I decided to focus on the keynotes and the Data Integration Track. To give you a taste of the conference, allow me to share highlights from what I was able to attend, with a stress on case studies and demos.

User Case Studies

An enterprise architect at MasterCard discussed their implementation of an enterprise data hub. The hub gives data analysts the data they need in a timely fashion, provides self-service data access for a variety of users, and serves as a unified platform for both internal and external data exchange.

Tom Tshontikidis explained why and how Kaiser Permanente migrated its large collection of data integration solutions from a legacy product (heavily extended via hand coding) to PowerCenter and other Informatica tools.

Two representatives from Cleveland Clinic spoke of their journey from quantity based metrics for performance management (which mostly laid blame on employees for missed targets) to quality based predictive analytics (which now sets realistic goals for helping their patients).

Dr. John Frenzel is the chief medical information officer at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. At Informatica World, he discussed how big data analytics is accelerating clinical research. Among the many great tips he shared, Frenzel described how data scientists at MD Anderson work like consultants, traveling among multiple teams, to share their expertise.

An IT systems architect at a major telecommunications company told the story about how they needed to simplify operations, so it could transform into better integrated – and hence more nimble – global organization. In support of those business goals, IT replaced hundreds of systems, mostly with six primary ones. This gargantuan consolidation project was mostly powered by Informatica tools.

Tom Kato of Mototak Consulting spoke in a few sessions. In one, he described how to manage data from cradle to grave, using best practices and leading tools for Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). In another, he explained his use of the Informatica Data Validation Option (DVO) in an early phase of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

John Racer from Discount Tire explained why validating data is important to assuring that data arrives where it’s supposed to be and in the condition intended. He discussed practical applications in cross-platform data flows, application migrations, and data migrations, involving tools from Informatica and other providers.

Product Demonstrations

Some of the coolest demos were presented by users. For example, I saw a management dashboard built by folks at a major energy company, using a visualization tool and data from PowerCenter. The dashboard enables business users to do pipeline capacity management and related operational tasks, many with near time data.

The Informatica Data Validation Option (DVO) kept coming up in presentations by both Informatica employees and customers. I was glad to see this, because I’ve long felt that data integration users do not validate data as often as they should. For example, validation should be part of most ETL testing and all data migration projects.

For a variety of reasons, I was glad see Secure@Source demo’d. The demo clarified that this is not a security tool, per se, although it can guide your security and other efforts. Instead, Secure@Source provides analytics for assessing data-oriented risks relevant to security, privacy, compliance, governance, and so on. Essentially, you create policies and other business rules (typically inspired by your compliance and governance policies), and Secure@Source helps you identify risks and quantify compliance.

Informatica’s Krupa Natarajan spent most of a session demonstrating Informatica Cloud. This product has been in production since 2006, so there’s a lot of robust functionality to look at. Long story short, Informatica Cloud comes across as a full-featured integration tool, not some after-thought hastily ported to a cloud (as too many cloud-based products are). Although Krupa didn’t say it explicitly, the demo brought home to me the point that data integration with a cloud-based tool is pretty much the same as with traditional tools. That good news should help users get more comfortable with clouds in general, as well as the potential use of cloud-based data management tools.

Further Learning

If you go to www.YouTube.com and search for “Informatica World 2015” you’ll find many useful speeches and sessions that you can replay. Here’s a couple of links to get you started:

Keynote by Informatica’s CEO, Sohaib Abbasi. This is a “must see,” if you care about Informatica’s vision for the future, especially in the context of the proposed acquisition of Informatica.

Interviews filmed on site by theCUBE. All the interviews are good. But I especially like the interviews with my analyst friends: John Myers and Mark Smith.

Posted by Philip Russom, Ph.D. on May 18, 2015


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