Informatica Taps Identity Systems for Identity Resolution

Infrastructure boundaries are fast disappearing, says data integration specialist Informatica, and organizations are scrambling to manage data as an asset

Data integration specialist Informatica Corp. made an interesting acquisition last month, picking up identity resolution technology from the aptly-named Identity Systems Inc., a Nokia subsidiary.

On the face of it, the move seems to take Informatica -- which once made a not-entirely-successful foray into analytics -- somewhat far afield from its bread-and-butter data integration roots. Never fear, say officials, who argue that the acquisition is consistent with Informatica's data integration-centric focus, which -- with the acquisition two years ago of data-quality specialist Similarity Systems -- now emphasizes a "holistic" approach to data integration.

Moreover, says Ivan Chong, general manager for Informatica's data quality unit, the acquisition highlights another salient trend in enterprise data integration and data management: disappearing infrastructure boundaries.

"We've spoken to several CEOs very recently who've basically said, 'There are no enterprise boundaries to my IT infrastructure. The only [IT asset] that characterizes my business is basically my data,'" he comments. "If their focus is on data, then they'll invest in infrastructure technology [like] Informatica to cultivate that asset."

Moreover, Chong argues, shifting paradigms entail shifting challenges.

"Dealing with data as an asset is a huge challenge, and many of the customers who come to us are recognizing that to gain a competitive advantage, they can focus on managing this [highly distributed] data wherever it is. The key [differentiator] for [customers] is that they're able to deliver this seamless access to their data, regardless of where it's located," he says.

"With our data-quality and language capabilities, and with the identity resolution [technology] that Identity Systems brings to the table, they can also ensure the accuracy of that data, regardless of where it's located."

What, precisely, does Identity Systems bring to the table, and -- more to the point -- how does it complement Informatica's "data, data, everywhere" vision?

Not surprisingly, Chong says, the Identity Systems technology -- which is chock full of APIs and comes bundled with a software development kit (SDK) -- is "hugely complementary" to Informatica's existing data integration offerings.

It's basically an identity matching and de-duplication service. In other words, Chong explains, Identity Systems specializes in resolving identities -- such as those of particular people or entities scattered across a range of different data sources. It ferrets out redundant or duplicate data, flags anomalies, and helps organizations cleanse or consolidate customer or product data.

"The capabilities offered by Identity Systems are very, very innovative in this area of identity search and resolution. Their particular search and mapping capability is directly applicable to data quality, and because they're packaged as part of an SDK, they're readily embeddable directly into our data quality products," he indicates.

"This notion of uniquely identifying individuals by looking at records -- [i.e.,] by looking at information about individuals [that] exists in unstructured documents [such as] PDFs [or] B2B exchange hubs -- is crucial to our customers."

Chong argues that the addition of identity resolution technology to its core data quality capability lets Informatica validate data wherever it resides. "We think that with the way the global information economy is evolving, we've talked with several CIOs who feel that the enterprise boundary that exists around the data, it doesn't exist anymore," he indicates.

"Their data sits all over the place. It sits across the Internet on Salesforce.com; it exists in spreadsheets; it sits in EDI exchanges. What [CIOs] say they need is a solution that allows them to not just access their data regardless of where it is, but to validate it, too. What they want is a complete solution that ensures the accuracy and reliability of this data."

About the Author

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