Informatica Doubles Down on Data Quality

Informatica’s courtship of two leading data-quality players helps to burnish its patina of openness

Data-integration specialist Informatica Corp. was busy last week, inking two OEM agreements with two data-quality partners.

The irony, of course, is that Informatica already has a long-standing OEM agreement with one of these two vendors—Firstlogic Corp.—to which it has accorded a kind of premier status in its marketing. Thanks to Informatica’s new OEM deal with Trillium Software, however, that’s no longer the case.

While the Trillium OEM agreement is probably a win-win for Informatica and Trillium, it’s hard to see it as anything but a blow to Firstlogic, analysts say.

“[T]his agreement is essentially a blow to [Firstlogic]. Informatica had been OEMing Firstlogic exclusively [among data-quality vendors], and this agreement topples Firstlogic from its premier station and potentially opens up opportunities that might otherwise have been Firstlogic’s,” writes Rob Lerner, a senior analyst for application infrastructure with Current Analysis. Lerner cites speculation that the Firstlogic technology Informatica resells—dubbed the “Firstlogic Data Quality Link for Informatica” --hasn’t “been … a barn-burner recently” in terms of sales, and suggests that this could have contributed to Informatica’s decision.

Should Trillium’s relationship with Informatica prove fruitful, Firstlogic could find itself in a more difficult position. “Ultimately, Firstlogic’s ETL options are cloudy should Informatica decide to make Trillium Software its sole or preferred OEM data-quality partner,” Lerner notes.

The deal is perceived as a coup for Informatica for a few reasons. First, Informatica’s customers can choose between two best-of-breed data-quality solutions—not a bad differentiator in a rapidly consolidating data-integration marketplace. “The company gains another data-quality OEM relationship, which it can use not only to tap into Trillium Software’s installed base and markets, but also to enhance its position as an open and independent ETL vendor,” he says.

Given the commoditization of data quality and the consolidation of the data-integration market, Informatica is under more pressure than ever to differentiate its ETL technology from best-of-breed competitors (e.g., IBM Corp. and SAS Institute Inc.), as well as commodity players (such as Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.) that are bundling increasingly robust ETL tools with their relational databases. In this respect, Informatica’s courtship of two leading data-quality pure-plays helps to further burnish that company’s patina of openness, Lerner points out. “Indeed, some of the company’s main competitors have their own data-quality technology, and with the acquisition of Ascential by IBM … the company needed boost in order to remain competitive,” he notes.

All’s not lost for Firstlogic, however. For starters, the company last week both reaffirmed and expanded its OEM agreement with Informatica, which the two partners say has been licensed by more than 160 customers.

Under the terms of the expanded OEM agreement, Informatica gets access to Firstlogic’s IQ8 technology, an SOA-based integration environment designed for developing, deploying, managing, and integrating data-quality solutions. Firstlogic says IQ8—which is also Unicode-compliant—centralizes data-quality management in an enterprise context by eliminating multi-instant, project-based deployments to deliver a single-instance enterprise deployment.

Secondly, says Lerner, Firstlogic has an extensive relationship with Informatica that dates back at least six years. The two companies have at least 160 mutual customers, too, most of which probably won’t be in play. Informatica’s sales force is also familiar with the Firstlogic technology and vice versa.

About the Author

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