Moving from Data Integration to Management in the Cloud

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One of the ongoing challenges that continues to frustrate businesses of all sizes is data integration, and that issue has only become more complicated with the advent of the cloud. And, in the brave new world of the cloud, data integration must morph into a broader set of data management capabilities to satisfy the escalating needs of today’s business.

Numerous market research surveys have found that data integration is among the top concerns facing IT and corporate decision makers as they consider the rapidly expanding assortment of cloud alternatives at their disposal. A recent survey conducted by THINKstrategies and MuleSoft reaffirmed feedback we received a year ago that software vendors are also being stymied by data integration issues just as much as their customers.

Approximately 90 percent of our survey respondents said integration is important in their ability to win new customers. Eighty-four percent of the survey respondents reported that integration has become a time-consuming task that is getting in the way of selling and delivering their software solutions. Despite the time they’re putting into integration, a quarter of the respondents said they’ve still lost customers because of integration issues.

These issues are affecting legacy software vendors, as well as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors. The previous generation of data integration solutions barely succeeded in tying together disparate systems, applications and data sources in the on-premises world and now must tie together a growing array of third-party resources in the cloud as well.

The new generation of cloud-based data integration tools and platforms being offered by the leading players in this segment of the market can perform the primary integration function more easily and economically than ever. But the diversity of data sources and application uses has added a new layer of complexity to the integration task.

As a result, the leading data integration players are redefining their functional responsibilities and repositioning their value propositions. Data integration is becoming a part of a lifecycle of data management capabilities, ranging from data warehousing, archiving and replication to data mapping, orchestration and governance.

To those who have been intimately involved in this segment of the market, taking a holistic approach may not sound revolutionary. But, organizations that are feeling overwhelmed by Big Data are now taking a broader view of how they need to respond to this challenge. This is particularly important as more and more organizations recognize the need to employ better business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to gain insight from their growing stockpiles of data.

I had the privilege of attending Informatica’s annual industry analyst briefing at which its executives outlined their vision of the changing data management landscape. [Disclosure: Informatica paid for my travel expenses to attend their event.] They discussed how the cloud is enabling more powerful, yet easier-to-use tools to deal with routine data integration tasks while creating a new set of variables that need to be addressed as the consumerization of IT and proliferation of apps produces an avalanche of new data sources and control issues.

The exciting news from the Informatica event is that today’s cloud solutions are demonstrating that they can respond to many of these issues. The more intriguing question is whether the pivotal nature of the data integration and management issue will elevate the importance of a company like Informatica in the view of its customers, partners and investors.

Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace and host of the Cloud Innovators Summit conference series, including the Cloud Analytics Summit on May 2 in NYC. He can be reached at jkaplan@thinkstrategies.com

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