From May 21st to May 24th, Amalgam Insights attended Informatica World. Both my colleague Tom Petrocelli and I were able to attend and gain insights on present and future of Informatica. Based on discussions with Informatica executives, customers, and partners, I gathered the following takeaways.
Informatica made a number of announcements that fit well into the new era of Machine Learning that is driving enterprise IT in 2018. Tactically, Informatica’s announcement of providing its Intelligent Cloud Services, its Integration Platform as a Service offering, natively on Azure represents a deeper partnership with Microsoft. Informatica’s data integration, synchronization, and migration services go hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s strategic goal of getting more data into the Azure cloud and shifting the data gravity of the cloud. Amalgam believes that this integration will also help increase the value of Azure Machine Learning Studio, which now will have more access to enterprise data.
Informatica’s support for Machine Learning is also validated with a variety of announcements across Informatica’s Spring launches, including:
• The CLAIRE-based Intelligent Structure Discovery to ingest and parse data from IoT devices, log files, clickstreams, and web pages using an automated schema inference
• Integration support for Python-based transformations
• Enhanced mass data ingestion support for Apache Hive and HDFS
• Real-time application integration orchestration and intelligent APIs that enable re-use and business process automation
• Metadata-driven APIs to support contextual discovery within the data catalog
• Collaborative data governance integrated with data cataloguing and data quality and enabled by graph queries to help close data governance gaps
Each of these functionalities lines up with data scientist and application developer needs to identify, manage, and control enterprise data in a new world where all data is potentially analytic, algorithmic, contextualized, and insightful. Informatica’s president of products & strategic ecosystems Amit Walia’s stated in his closing keynote that metadata is the new Operating System of the future, an idea that is both inspired and accurate as we move into a world where accurate and real-time contextualization is the key to success.
From my perspective, the most exciting announcement was Informatica’s announcement of Streaming Data Management. Quite frankly, end-to-end streaming data management has been an enterprise operational mess that has hindered the adoption of the Internet of Things and real-time analytics, two areas with massive market potential. Informatica solves this challenging by bringing together Edge Data Streaming, Big Data Streaming, and Change Data Capture products to create an end-to-end solution to support real-time streaming analytics and take advantage of the combination of brokerless architecture for the edge, AI-driven parsing from the CLAIRE engine, to support ingestion into Hadoop, NoSQL, Azure EventHub, and other sources.
By supporting fast data end-to-end as a single vendor in a consolidated fashion, Informatica provides a valuable solution for real-time analytics that has previously required a messy and piecemeal jigsaw puzzle consisting of multiple vendors. With this product announcement, Informatica immediately moves to the head of the pack for any enterprise that is working on mission-critical streaming analytics projects, including IoT, web, and infrastructure management projects requiring constant vigilance and associated with multi-million dollar value propositions.
At Informatica World, Amalgam had the opportunity to speak with multiple Informatica customers and found that the biggest challenge was in trying to figure out how to fully manage across all of Informatica’s data management, data integration, application integration, data catalog, data governance, and security offerings from an IT operations perspective. A common theme we heard from every customer we spoke with was that they wanted a better understanding on how to take full advantage of the artificial intelligence and machine learning for automation in current INFA products as manual configuration and management tasks become increasingly complex.
With the portfolio expansion that Informatica has aggressively built out over the past several years, there is emerging market awareness for the need for a holistic systems management tool to provide visibility and consistent reporting across all of Informatica’s offerings. With Informatica’s success in expanding the breadth of client usage, Informatica now faces the challenge of improving management and administration tools that are normally taken for granted, increasing adoption of its Operational Insights monitoring and insight tool, and continuing to improve operational management capabilities based on user requests. Amalgam notes that when clients ask for more management and governance tools, it is a sign of increased enterprise usage and client demands to manage more users and use cases at scale. In other words, this is a good problem to have and an area where Amalgam would recommend that Informatica continue to prioritize over the next 6-12 months to support enterprise needs.
As an aside, Informatica is correct about this time as being a generational market disruption in data, but Amalgam believes that the message is a bit off. At this event, Informatica consistently used the idea of Data 3.0 linked with the phrase “Data Powers Digital Transformation.” Amalgam notes that any technology that is calling itself Version 3.0 is typically dealing with a branding challenge or starting to make incremental changes that are harder to articulate. For instance, consider the concept of “Web 3.0” that has struggled to come into existence over the past decade or “Mobile 3.0” that has been discussed for the past five years.
Amalgam suggests that, in reality, we are not in a Data 3.0 Era, but a Machine Learning 1.0 era where companies are just starting to conduct analytic analysis on fast machine data and to meaningfully embed algorithmic data analytics into applications for the first time within business strategy and operations while building on their prior data, reporting, discovery, and analytics investments.
Whether we want to call this “Analytics 1.0” or the slightly more marketing-friendly term of “Machine Learning 1.0” is up to the marketing world. But to move forward, we must accept that the fast data of networks and messaging hubs, Big Data of binaries and data lakes, and varied data formats from documents and websites all used for analytic and machine learning use cases is fundamentally different from a world where data is most useful for documenting enterprise transactions and workflows. This is not an incremental 2.0 to 3.0 change, but a mindset where archival data and metadata are now core enterprise assets.
Overall, my view of Informatica World was that Informatica is successfully growing and expanding to meet the considerable enterprise needs for supporting data. From a technology and product perspective, Informatica continues to innovate and meet key challenges to support modern data challenges. And I am excited to see how Informatica’s product development to support Big Data and Fast Data as Informatica has quickly established itself as a data security and governance leader and has the opportunity to continue pushing forward in application, metadata, and IT management categories. Informatica has the opportunity to extend its messaging and position so that its market-leading product portfolio continues to be associated with current needs rather than live in the past as it facilitates practical value of digital transformation and the business outcomes of revenue, business model change, process automation, and algorithmic machine learning that go along with true transformation. The present and near future of data science, smarter applications, and faster analytics is a new vernacular of this era of Machine Learning 1.0. Informatica is quickly developing the data management infrastructure for this new era and has the opportunity to more fully articulate the value of its solutions and Informatica’s alignment with the forward-facing demands of modern enterprise IT to execute on this vision for the future.