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March 28, 2014

Living in a hybrid world

Informatica is helping businesses manage their data across cloud and on-premise platforms.

By Claire Vanner

Migrating to the cloud has become the norm for most companies as they look to expand and protect their data storage.

Data integration company Informatica has been seeing the effects of this, with cloud being the fastest growing segment of their business.

Ash Kulkarni, SVP data integration at Informatica, told CBR that this has resulted in businesses managing their data across hybrid platforms.

"From the Informatica perspective is: just like mainframes haven’t gone away, everything that we’ve been building on premise isn’t going away any time soon," he said.

"So this move to the cloud for the next two decades means you have an environment where you exist in a hybrid world. Much of your data will still be on-prem, while it rapidly moves to the cloud."

Migrating data is not a simple rip and replace strategy, as data is transferred to a cloud environment, it is more important than ever to have a single, comprehensive data management platform to manage that data fragmentation.

In addition to the movement of data itself, there is another movement occurring: transferring analytics and transactions systems from on-prem to cloud. This has often lead to companies investing in various technologies, ranging from the more traditional Teradata to newer analytic appliances like Hadoop, in-memory systems like SAP and now cloud-based platforms like Amazon Red Shift.

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Kalkarni says that being able to seamlessly deal with these environments is going to become more and more difficult over time.

"We have a number of customers who are looking to effectively move and elastically enable analytic workloads across on-prem systems like Teradata and in cloud systems like Amazon Red Shift," said Kulkarni.

"I think that’s going to be the norm going forward: just to optimise how you deal with computer capacity, data storage capacity, the economics of data storage and data management. We feel that’s a very important trend for us to be on top of.

Informatica has the advantage of experience, being the first vendor to offer a data integration as a service offering to the industry seven years ago when it recognised the emerging trend of moving to the cloud.

"We leverage the same engine under the covers which gives us this unique advantage of being able to map once and deploy here. So I can take business logic and build it in my on-prem system, which I may be managing in [IBM] Netezza and I can take that same logic and use it to analyse data in Amazon Red Logic."

But a comprehensive data platform doesn’t stop at data integration. Kulkarni says this is just the first hurdle.

"The moment you do that, you have to worry about what kind of data you’re moving around. Is the quality of that data appropriate? If you move bad data around, you may be making the problem worse and making it harder to get real value out of that information," says Kulkarni.

"All of this needs to be in one single platform. The moment you start connecting data, if you don’t think about whether that data is safe and clean, you start losing the inherent value of that platform. That’s been Informatica’s focus for at least the last decade now."

Not having a single platform to manage assets fuelled the financial meltdown in 2008 as some of the biggest banks in the world did not have a full appreciation of what their counter party risk was. Without that they really had no way to understand what their exposure was to the various threats in the market.

"That’s a very circular problem in finance today. When you are making bets by investing in securities and instruments that might be held by other banks, which in turn are investing in other instruments that you might hold, it’s a very circuitous situation. If you cannot understand the exact picture of risk with every one of your partners, you are guaranteed to be in a world of trouble, and that’s exactly what happened [in the 2008 financial crisis]," said Kulkarni.

Informatica helps its customers by giving them a consistent view of what the counterparty risk is, as well as ensuring they can share that single view with their regulators both domestic and foreign, which gives them a unique advantage.

Kulkarni said: "The quality of the data at the end of the day is what gives you the best analytics models and a guarantee that the decisions that you’re making are going to pan out."

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