Informatica CEO on adaptive data sharing

FRAMINGHAM (10/23/2003) - Gaurav Dhillon is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of data integration and business intelligence software maker Informatica Corp. in Redwood City, California. This week, the company held its annual Informatica World 2003 user event in San Diego, where Dhillon unveiled Informatica's road map, including plans for an adaptive data sharing infrastructure. While at the event, Dhillon took time to discuss Informatica and its plans for the future with Computerworld.

Can you elaborate on where Informatica is going? What is the major theme of the show? Our value proposition is shifting to an [integration] infrastructure that overlays on top of applications and legacy investments customers have made. By [helping customers] do a better job integrating some of these data sets, that provides a lot of value.

Our theme is to provide an adaptive infrastructure. We've seen that in many enterprise application integration projects -- people try to use technology but are not able to take into account ... the future. To our mind, the way people have gone about integration has been using fragments of code to glue together various systems in a company. The approach is inflexible and the minute anything changes those connections break.

What we're rolling out to customers is a movement to the adaptive infrastructure. That is the central theme of Version 7 [of the Informatica flagship PowerCenter data integration platform], code-named Stealth, which is in beta now and will ship in December. The connections that we're using are more self-describing, more loosely coupled and more flexible. As the business or technology changes, those connections don't break.

We feel a lot of integration projects are driven by visibility needs such as regulatory compliance, and there is the need for a single view of the customer to do upselling or cross-selling. PowerCenter 7 will have some things that will enable companies to write customer masters.

Other companies, such as Business Objects, have been moving into some of areas you are in, such as extraction, transformation and load technology. Does that threaten you? It shows there is a big market. Our research and development folks are creating a lot of value and growing our position in a good secure way. The fact that other folks are getting into integration indicates that the overall integration needs are in the billions of dollars, and 70 percent [of the cost] of that is in data integration.

The independent view we provide is as a data integration player.

What is your big differentiator? Our approach is based on an object-oriented way of connecting a database and applications to make things happen. The competition is about rewriting fragments of code, internally or by a third party. When there is a new version of an enterprise resource planning or database installed [in these enterprises] you have to redo everything. Our advantage is to get people into deployment and keep them going, regardless of the things going on about them.

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