Amongst other things, Informatica has just announced details of how it sees its platform developing over the next months and years. There are two major aspects to this, the first being what the company is calling the Intelligent Data Platform (IDP) and the second, a solution use case called the Managed Data Lake (MDL).
The idea behind IDP is that, in the evolving market for big data and the Internet of Things, it is increasingly difficult (and will be more so in the future) to keep track of where all your relevant sources of data are (some of which will be external), how they relate to one another, and how to pull that data together in an easy and automated manner. In addition, that data needs to be trustworthy—both in the sense of good quality and in the sense of secure—before you can make decisions based on that data. This is where MDL comes in.
In other words, Informatica is moving towards a platform offering that directly supports big data analytics: it won’t store the data itself and it won’t provide analytic functionality itself but it will support both. There are actually two aspects to this: on the one hand there is support for the sort of data preparation that data scientists do (which typically takes up to 80% of their time—so anything that makes this journey easier and faster will be a boon), and on the other hand there is support (in Project Springbok, a new Informatica product in early stage development) for business users who want self-service, ad hoc access to business intelligence and query data.
So, there is no question that what Informatica is building is desirable. What might be at issue is that this is a new market for Informatica. It could be argued that it is an extension to the company’s existing support for data federation but, nevertheless, this is going to bring it into competition with new vendors that it has not encountered before. For example, specialist data preparation vendors. Traditional business intelligence suppliers may also feel that Informatica is encroaching on their space more than it has historically, though this is more likely to be the case for the likes of SAS, SAP and IBM—with which Informatica competes anyway—than more innovative vendors such as Tableau and Spotfire (TIBCO).
At present it is early days for both IDP and MDL, and Project Springbok, so it will be interesting to see the details of specific product announcements over the coming months. It is potentially the start of an interesting journey.