Informatica 9.5 is scheduled to be available by month-end, with additional capabilities coming by year-end. It’s a major release for the integration vendor, driven by what Informatica sees as the three major Big Data problems enterprises face: using social data, data in the cloud and datasets. Informatica’s chief marketing officer, Chris Boorman, explains in this interview with IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson.
Lawson: Everybody seems to have an opinion on what Big Data is and means. What’s your take?
Boorman: Our view of Big Data from an enterprise perspective is it’s actually the confluence of three things. It is that traditional enterprise data that we have dealt with for years and years and years, which in its own right has become big.
However, on the other side of the house, we now have this influx, and I think this is the reason why Big Data is a term everybody is talking about, because the new types of data hitting enterprises are basically causing enterprises to think about how can they embrace the social data. How can they leverage the machine data? How can they take advantage of that in a trusted manner to help them achieve their business imperatives?
Because of all these new types of data, there is a third element, which is new types of data processing are coming to the floor — particularly the open source Hadoop world.
So our customers tell us that their most important asset is their data and what they are saying to us is we are at the beginning of something new, which relates to bringing all of this together in order to gain insights or drive business using these types of data.
Lawson: What’s new in Informatica 9.5 to help companies address Big Data?
Boorman: As we’ve evolved our company, we came to the realization that our role with our customers is to help maximize their return on data in order to drive their business forward. We deliver capabilities that improve the value of the data by making it more trustworthy through the use of data quality software. All of these characteristics are all about the value of data and we also lower labor costs by doing more with less. We lower software costs through application retirements — all those sorts of things. And that’s the value proposition of Informatica.
With Informatica 9.5, we are taking that into the world of Big Data, in the context of how you want to leverage social data or machine data, whether on the cloud or transactional systems, whether you want to be able to focus on how you embrace the cloud with the hybrid enterprise, how you want to use Hadoop.
Informatica 9.5 has been designed with that in mind to allow organizations to be able to maximize their return on Big Data. Our view is there’s no point in having data or Big Data unless you're actually going to gain value from it.
There are a lot of new capabilities within 9.5, but I’ll start with three.
The first one really represents the embeddable cloud service. We’re offering the ability to embed the cloud services within an application, and basically those are cloud integration templates. Then we will offer basically a cloud-connected toolkit to allow a developer or a partner to use Informatica cloud to connect to a cloud or application and then sell that connector on the Informatica marketplace so that they can then offer cloud providers or cloud users the easy connectivity.
The second component of Informatica 9.5 is what I call the complete four-dimensional view of the customer. We have two things that we’re showing. One is the world of social MDM, to allow enterprises with trust to basically extend their understanding of you as a customer into your social network and be able to provide value to you in a trusted fashion.
The second is being able to look at a data timeline that allows you to go back over time and determine what the data was at a particular point in time so that you can see how this has changed.
Then the final big third of the three big things in Informatica 9 is all around Hadoop. What we are effectively doing is firstly enabling you to move data in and out of Hadoop in whatever format you want, whether it be through an ultra-messaging capability, which is our ultra-low-latency data delivery capability, or through data replication or through basically data virtualization. So, giving enterprises a choice in terms of how they can use Hadoop as simply another place where data resides and data is processed.
Then, later this year, basically bringing the complete development environment of Informatica onto the world of Hadoop and enabling us to basically provide native transforms within Hadoop as well as the ability to provide security, profiling, the execution of capabilities within that world as an additional place where enterprises will have data.
Lawson: Do you have any examples of what customers are doing in the space? I mean, how they're actually achieving sort of new business revelations?
Boorman: Certainly. For example, eHarmony, for example, U.S. Xpress. I can give you some other examples of organizations like a financial institution called Westpac in the Australian-New Zealand world.
The U.S. Xpress story is one of my favorite use cases of Big Data. They're a trucking company and they basically have a whole bunch of trucks that travel around the U.S. delivering goods. They compete against other trucking companies and the railroads and so on. It’s quite an unusual place, in some respects, to see an amazing example of Big Data in action.
They have a policy called "No Data Left Behind" and they capture literally everything they can do off the trucks: The tire pressures, the GPS location, the gas pressure, the gas level, the consumption, the temperature of the air in the cabin, where the truck drivers go, what routes they take. They analyze all of this data.
They combine traditional transactional data with all of this machine data. They process it using Hadoop and they determine routes that the trucks should follow. They look at things like the temperature in the cabin, how long the guys or ladies are sleeping overnight.
They use our software, particularly our data quality software. What they did was they basically took the products, then built their own iPad front end, which they provide to all of their drivers, and — through that whole process of analyzing all of this data within their suite operations — they basically saved over $6 million in truck idle time by ensuring that those trucks are moving all the time and they're not sitting, waiting unnecessarily.
I just love it, because it’s an amazing example of a traditional company using this technology to save a significant amount of money and help improve the performance of their operations.