HP and Informatica Partner for BI Bundles

Three new offerings combine HP and Informatica products. Is even closer collaboration in their future?

Informatica Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) have announced a partnership that according to many industry watchers has been a long time coming. Informatica, the self-proclaimed "Switzerland" of the data integration (DI) space, teamed with computing giant HP to promote a trio of joint business intelligence (BI) bundles. Powered by a combination of Informatica's DI technology and HP's data warehousing (DW) hardware, software, and services, the first batch of Informatica/HP bundles address DI, master data management (MDM), and information quality management.

HP and Informatica announced three distinct product and services bundles. The first, HP Neoview with the Informatica DI Platform, is a straight-up DW/BI offering. The second -- HP Master Data Management Services with the Informatica DI Platform -- focuses on MDM. It promises to deliver "a holistic and accurate view across various sources of an organization's core business entities." The third, HP Information Quality Management Services with the Informatica DI Platform, focuses on data quality and information quality assurance. It promises "to go beyond" bread-and-butter reporting and analysis.

The announcement suggests that both HP and Informatica will be collaborating more closely in the future. According to Giuliano DiVitantonio, director of marketing and alliances with HP's Business Intelligence Solutions group, "We've formalized this [existing] partnership and we've created a number of solution bundles that HP will bring to market by essentially selling the whole bundle with embedded Informatica technology. To have a great relationship, you have to have incredibly great executive alignment and vision. The HP executives … are aligned with Informatica [and its executive team] in terms of their thinking and why this relationship made sense,"

Informatica officials echo this message, stressing that although their company has similar alliances with both Oracle Corp. and SAP AG, its accord with HP is qualitatively different. Harry Gould, senior vice-president of worldwide alliances with Informatica says they're very good relationships. "Oracle has distributed over 1,500 copies of our product … so that's a significant relationship, but at the end of the day, because of the fact that Oracle is a competitor to us as well … we're not going to get that executive alignment where we're sititng down with Larry … and breaking bread and smoking the peace pipe. SAP as well."

Both DiVitantonio and Gould stress the long-standing collaboration between the two companies -- chiefly in the area of interoperability between HP hardware and Informatica software. They also cite Informatica's early support for NeoView: HP certified PowerCenter for use with NeoView just months after that product first launched in April 2007.

The takeaway, says DiVitantonio, is that the latest wrinkle in the HP/Informatica partnership is also its most substantive development, too. "HP has been specifically in the business intelligence business for a couple of years, so that has given us time to partner with Informatica. Specifically in business intelligence, we have at least a couple of years of experience working together, and that's really been required to get the kind of executive alignment that we both want, [as well as] getting some good [joint customer] wins under our belts. This [announcement] doesn't come out of the blue," he maintains.

The HP/Informatica bundles also exemplify HP's solution strategy, DiVitantonio continues. "HP has taken a view of the market where we really go to market to address customer problems. We're not going to build a software stack the same way that an Oracle or an SAP would. We're going to instead start with capabilities as needed to address customer problems [on an] end-to-end [basis]. We're only going to have a few components in the stack that we will develop ourselves. For the vast majority, we will partner for the rest of the stack."

Closer Collaboration

The announcement doesn't in any sense augur Informatica's eventual acquisition by HP. It does, however, suggest that both companies plan to collaborate more closely, which may be why some industry watchers have, for some time, been discussing an HP/Informatica pairing as a kind of no-brainer acquisition scenario. Consider the perspective of a product marketing manager with a prominent BI independent who raised the possibility of HP's acquiring Informatica in several background interviews.

"I'd love it if we could buy [Informatica]," he said, during a sit-down interview at the TDWI Winter World Conference in Las Vegas. This individual declined to discuss that possibility, however, but instead broached the possibility of HP's purchasing Informatica, citing HP's come-to-DW conversion experience under CEO (and NCR Corp. veteran) Mark Hurd. "I really don't understand why HP doesn't [acquire them]. [Informatica] seems like such a good match for where [Mark Hurd] wants to take them."

This perspective is not atypical. By their own admission, HP and Informatica have a lot of joint accounts. Gould, for example, claims that more than one-third of Informatica shops either run on top of HP hardware or consume HP software and services. More to the point, Informatica and its DI assets help plug one of HP's most glaring gaps: it inherited creditable DW expertise when it acquired the former Knightsbridge almost three years ago; it markets a formidable DW platform in NeoView (which derives its MPP and fault-tolerant capabilities from HP's Tandem assets), but -- unlike competitors IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., and (to a lesser degree) SAP, it lacks a comparable DI software strategy.

Both HP and Informatica officials dismiss such speculation. DiVitantonio, for his part, positions last week's announcement as more of a milestone (in the context of an evolving partnership) and less of a disruptive development.

Gould also demurs: "Informatica has had a long history of doing these types of deals … with some of the largest software technology companies in the world, including Oracle and SAP. This becomes our most significant one that we're announcing because HP is the largest technology company in the world, and this opens up all kinds of opportunities that we didn't have before."

Although Informatica does consider the HP alliance to be its most important partnership, that's chiefly a function of its non-competitive nature, Gould contends. "Are we committing more resources [to the HP partnership]? What is our biggest resource? Our biggest resource is our direct sales force, and the answer to that [question] is yes, our direct sales force will be working very dramatically with HP and we will be promoting these offerings within our existing customer base of 3,700 customers.

"We do not work in the same way with Oracle and SAP, primarily because our products are embedded within different applications, and it really wouldn't make sense for our products to work in that manner," he concludes.