Informatica makes me swear

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Content Copyright © 2016 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The IM Blog

Bugger. That was my first reaction when I was pre-briefed on this year’s Informatica World announcements. Actually, that’s not quite true. Threefold bugger in fact.

The cause of this remonstrance is the company’s Enterprise Information Catalog. This works alongside Informatica Rev and is part of the company’s Intelligent Data Lake ecosystem (though it is also useful in other contexts). What it does is allow you to crawl through your data lake, identify the data resources that are within in it, capture the metadata associated with those different forms of data, and then allow you to search against the resulting catalog. I call this data cataloguing.

So, what’s not to like? Nothing. It’s the timing that is a buggeration. Last year I wrote both a white paper and a market update (product comparison) on data preparation. Both of these have been updated with a research process that ended at the end of March. In the latest version of the white paper, one of the major changes is that there is now a section on data cataloguing and I have predicted that data preparation and data cataloguing would merge. This was before I knew about Informatica’s announcement but based on the fact that Trifacta has a partnership with Waterline, that Tamr has introduced some cataloguing capabilities, and that Unifi (which is resold by Trillium) was built from the outset with both sets of capabilities in mind.

So Informatica’s announcement validates my prediction. That’s not the problem. The problem is with the scoring in the Market Update. Informatica Rev, on its own, scores well but is not outstanding. However, in conjunction with the Enterprise Information Catalog it is up there at the top with a best in class offering. And that’s the problem: a report superseded by events.

Of course, all such reports reflect a moment in time and you can’t be forever delaying for someone’s next release. However, most new releases are incremental rather than dramatic and Enterprise Information Catalog is dramatic. So, as I said: bugger.

There is actually a further point worth discussing here. There are three types of supplier in this space: pure plays, BI vendors and data integration/quality vendors. A major issue is whether you want data preparation to be part of your business intelligence or your data governance infrastructure. The argument I hear a lot is that business analysts like to do data preparation and analysis within the same environment. There are two arguments against that. Firstly, while lots of BI vendors are adding data preparation to their product suites I don’t know anyone that is adding data cataloguing. Secondly, the big advantage of using a platform like Informatica Rev is that you can easily operationalise the data transformations you perform during the data preparation process. That isn’t the case if you don’t have an appropriate data quality or transformation engine underneath the data preparation platform – and pure plays and BI vendors don’t generally have that.