Informatica has announced that it is to acquire Identity Systems, a subsidiary of Nokia. So, who and what is Identity Systems? And why should you care?
Identity Systems, which was previously known as Search Software America (SSA), is around 20 years old and it provides identity resolution software.
Identity resolution is about determining who people are (and other named things such as companies, products and so forth). This is important in a number of areas such as security, anti-money laundering, fraud detection and prevention and so on, as well as in master data management and eDiscovery. To take this last example as a use case: suppose you need to find all the emails you sent to xyz company. There are a couple of things you need to know: first, you need to know all the names of subsidiaries of that company and, secondly, you need to know how xyz is spelled in Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic and Bulgarian as well as English, if that company happens to have offices in those countries.
Actually that's not true: you don't need to know about multi-lingual spellings because Identity Systems can do that for you (well, for 60+ languages anyway).
Identity Systems is not the only player in this market (I know of two others: IBM with Entity Analytics, which is based on its acquisitions of SRD and LAS; and Infoglide Software) but Identity Systems claims to be the largest, with over 500 customers world-wide. It also has a number of partners, particularly in the CRM and MDM spaces with the likes of Oracle, Purisma (now D&B), Siperian and Siebel that Informatica will no doubt hope to leverage. In particular, as a standalone company, Identity Systems chose to build embeddable technology rather than solutions or applications. As a result, Informatica has acquired something that should be easy to integrate into its environment (the product comes with its own SDK—software development kit) once the acquisition is complete (which should be at the end of May).
So, good news or bad news for Informatica? Clearly the former as it adds significant additional capability to the product line and should provide significant cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. There is a proviso, however: IBM has not been very successful at positioning Entity Analytics as opposed to its conventional data quality products so Informatica will have to do better than IBM. Fortunately, it looks as if it will do: while Identity Systems' solutions will continue to be marketed as stand-alone products Informatica clearly sees them as a part of their overall data quality strategy. In other words, we expect what was formerly Similarity to be merged with Identity Systems to form a suite of cohesive offerings. This is what IBM has failed to do: by leaving Entity Analytics as a separate group in its own right it has not derived the synergies that Informatica hopes to gain.
Of course the other point is that this gives Informatica a distinct lead in this area over everybody else in the data quality space (Trillium, Dataflux, SAP et al) with the exception of IBM. Which leaves one final question: who is going to buy Infoglide?