Informatica flexes data integration muscle in Redshift
Informatica and Amazon are aiming to radically alter the economics of enterprise data warehousing (EDW) with a new subscription-based data integration service that extends to Amazonâ€™s Redshift data warehouse in the cloud. This solution combines Informaticaâ€™s robust data integration prowess with Amazonâ€™s trademark aggressive cloud-based pricing. But while the cost of integration might be reduced, the complexity of the task might not be.
For Informatica, Redshift represents an incremental addition to its cloud-based Connector business model, arguably extending its competency to yet another cloud. The question is whether Redshift will drum up enough interest for analytics in the cloud as its Connector has done for Salesforce.com CRM data integration
Informatica pushes data integration excellence into Amazonâ€™s data warehousing cloud
Informatica Cloud Connector for Amazon Redshift is a cloud data integration service that delivers direct connectivity to the Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud-based Redshift data warehouse service. This connector will allow organizations to move and integrate data from on-premise and/or other cloud applications into Redshift, using the Informatica Platform, which will be available as a subscription data integration service.
Informatica is a near-perfect partner in this respect because its core PowerCenter data integration technology for building data warehouses is mature and proven. Informatica has also added data quality, master data management (MDM), and metadata management capabilities that Redshift customers can potentially leverage in their deployments.
The only question has been price. Informatica has traditionally been perceived as expensive data warehousing tooling, aimed at large on-premise deals. However, cloud connectors such as Redshift are making it making it more affordable through aggressively priced subscription services starting at perhaps as low as only $500 per connector per month as a flat fee. This combined with Redshiftâ€™s claim of less than $1,000 per terabyte per year make for quite a compelling data warehousing proposition. However, the Redshift Connector is still under development and is expected to be available sometime in the first half of 2013, so until this happens, pricing will not be finalized. In addition, many Informatica Cloud customers also license multiple connectors.
The cloud makes EDW cheaper but not necessarily easier
Cloud infrastructures such as Redshift have helped to lower the cost through managed services and automated tasks such as provisioning and configuring, but cheaper does not necessarily mean easier. Companies still need to address a critical need for sound data integration, which accounts for the bulk expenditure on these types of projects. Arguably, doing data integration in the cloud complicates matters further, hence the need for a robust and flexible data integration and governance platform. Informaticaâ€™s technology fits the bill perfectly, but implemented on-premise carries a significant cost. Providing data access via the cloud negates this somewhat. However, enterprises still need to invest in the skills and expertise to effectively integrate data, regardless of whether it resides on-premise or in the cloud.
Informatica is targeting a reality of â€śhybridâ€ť data environments
Informaticaâ€™s Connector strategy supports â€śhybridâ€ť data environments across two axes: data type and data platform. Redshift, in particular, highlights the debate between on-premise and cloud, which is not black and white. Dealing with mixed data environments is now a stark reality that most organizations face, whether their applications and data are housed on-premise or in the cloud.
Informatica has positioned itself strongly from an early start to address this scenario. The company now boasts a single data integration architecture that works across both on-premise and cloud environments. This is primarily based on the notion of a â€śvirtual data machineâ€ť (VDM) that separates development from run-time environments and can be embedded into any business application installed on-premise and/or in the cloud. Speed of connectivity is also another factor working in Informaticaâ€™s favor, thanks to a broad range of prebuilt connectors (more than 100 are now available for download on the Informatica Marketplace) to predictable applications and data sources. Another is data security in the cloud. While this is partly a psychological concern, Informatica and Amazon claim to offer more securely protected cloud environments, for both data in transit and in place, than most on-premise deployments.
AWS is driving new technology and channel partnerships for Redshift
AWS is helping Amazon to expand its partner ecosystem, opening up Redshift in order to capture a greater share of a mature and saturated EDW market. Redshift, which was announced just over 10 weeks ago to ride a demand curve for Big Data analytics, has already garnered support of dozens of business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools vendors, including SAP, IBM, Tableau, MicroStrategy, and Pentaho, as well as technology consulting firms including Cognizant and Capgemini.
These are not just technical integrations or service agreements. More importantly, they provide a ready-made channel into which Redshift can be sold. In some cases, however, Amazon might run into direct competition with partnersâ€™ own cloud-based EDW offerings, which are seen as a cut-price alternative to Informaticaâ€™s own data warehousing proposition, as well as Teradata, Oracle, and IBM EDWs (Teradata and Informatica shares dipped last November when Redshift was announced), and is likely to divert some analytics workloads at a departmental level. However, Ovum believes it is most directly competitive to Microsoft Azure and to some extent Google BigQuery, which has its sights on similar Big Data analysis needs at similar price points. This is because many established EDW customers have vested interests in the analytics models built into their solutions.
Informatica claims to be the first data integration vendor to provide direct connectivity to Redshift, and Ovum believes the company will build on its Cloud Connector to forge a broader partnership with AWS in other parts of its product portfolio.
Madan Sheina, Lead Analyst, Information Management
On the Radar: ParAccel (Ovum, December 2012)
Amazon Web Services fills out its Big Data cloud platform (Ovum, December 2012)
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