Partners Hinting IIDEA Will Spread to Large Enterprises

IBM’s new pre-packaged BI bundle is packaged for the small and mid-sized enterprise market—but there are hints that the large enterprise won't be far behind

Last week, IBM Corp. and Informatica Corp. touted a pre-packaged hardware, software, and services bundle that fuses Informatica’s extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) and business intelligence (BI) technologies with Big Blue’s xSeries platform and services provided by IBM reseller Avnet Partner Solutions. (See http://www.esj.com/business_intelligence/article.asp?id=7219&t=y.)

Right now, the offering, called the Informatica and IBM Dashboard Appliance Engine (IIDEA) is powered by Informatica’s PowerCenter ETL tool, which provides connectivity into a range of environments—with the exception of host-based applications and data sources, of course.

The good news, for users of Big Blue’s iSeries and zSeries technology platforms, anyway, is that the two partners have dropped hints that IIDEA might also incorporate ETL technology capable of accessing these systems. “Obviously what we want to do is build successfully on this model and then offer an extension” that could include other offerings—such as Informatica’s PowerExchange host-based ETL technology—according to Lesley Young, senior vice-president of medium and small enterprise business at Informatica. Young notes that customers can currently purchase PowerExchange along with the bundle.

As far as details are concerned, Karen Steele, vice president of corporate marketing with Informatica, is no less obscure. “Whether we sell [PowerExchange] directly or it goes through the channel [as part of the bundle], we will absolutely make that product available,” she asserts.

IBM and Informatica position IIDEA as an out-of-the-box, rapid-deployment platform designed to support business financials, compliance, and risk management reporting initiatives for small and mid-sized enterprise (SME) environments.

IIDEA comprises Informatica’s PowerCenter 7.1 data integration and PowerAnalyzer 4.1 dashboarding tools with IBM's DB2 Warehouse Edition, WebSphere Application Server and xSeries Intel-based servers. “It’s built on an IBM xSeries server, a two or four CPU server, and includes Red Hat Linux,” Young says, noting that IIDEA also features data-mining and analytic components, courtesy of IBM’s DB2 Intelligent Miner and DB2 Cube Views technologies.

IBM and Informatica plan to charge $200,000 for IIDEA—a price tag that also includes a services component provided by channel VARs. While $200,000 is a not-insignificant chunk of change for many SME customers, it could be more palatable to large enterprise customers—assuming PowerExchange doesn’t add too much to the overall cost. While Informatica’s Steele said the two partners currently plan to concentrate on the SME space, she confirmed that Informatica and IBM could also push IIDEA (or similar offerings) in other markets.

Not surprisingly, Steele argued that a bundled solution like IIDEA is just the ticket for SME customers, which—as Informatica defines the term—typically post no more than $500 million in annual revenues. “They need to be able to consolidate data related to the financial specifics of customers. They have the need to integrate data so that these companies could build better business processes or could extend marketing programs,” says Steele.

At the same time, Steele acknowledges, the large enterprise is Informatica’s bread-and-butter market segment. Right now, for example, the data integration specialist has a presence in about 200 SME accounts—compared with about 2,000 total customers. That’s another area in which Avnet has a valuable contribution to make: Big Blue did more than $20 billion in SME revenue last year, and Avnet was responsible for about $1 billion of that total. In this respect, Steele allows, Avnet might help give Informatica traction in existing IBM accounts. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, Big Blue and Informatica announced IIDEA at an IBM VAR conference last week.

“The purpose of our being there was to promote this three-way branded bundle, and, obviously, we’re doing recruitment [of VARs],” says Young. “We’re embarking on a 10-city road show with IBM and Avnet not just to recruit new customers but bring existing customers into the fold.”

IBM and Informatica will host boot camps designed to help VARs get up to speed on the nuts and bolts of the new offering, and the two partners have also made available an IIDEA Solutions Enablement Kit to help resellers and customers build company financial, compliance, and risk-management reports.

IIDEA will be distributed through Avnet. In addition, IBM Business Partners that qualify for Big Blue’s Value Advantage Plus program will be eligible to resell the offering.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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