Informatica: Driven to ExtractionBy Joshua Weinberger Print
Dossiers: Where analytics is seen as a data-output service, Informatica came to the scene playing off its strength on the other end of the data warehousethe migration technique known as extraction, transformation and load (ETL)
Where analytics is seen as a data-output service, Informatica came to the scene playing off its strength on the other end of the data warehousethe migration technique known as extraction, transformation and load (ETL). Since the quality of any analytics program is innately tied to the quality of the underlying data, that's not a strength to be underestimated.
When Thrifty Car Rental (now the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group) went looking for ETL tools, "Informatica was the leader in that area," says Manager of Database Support Everett Underwood. Now, he says, using Informatica "makes it easier to do things. It shortens our product cycle, and it means we can quickly create data movement without doing as much testing or coding." Tentative plans for real-time applications have taken a temporary backseat during the merger.
Freight-and-logistics company Schneider National considers Informatica "a very important part of our data management strategy," says Vice President of Application Development & Business Intelligence Bob Grawien. But three years ago, when Schneider signed on, the vendor's offerings didn't include reporting or analyticsso Schneider opted to use Cognos for reporting. Still, Informatica "really delivered on the promise we hoped for when we bought it."
Other users agree that the company's core tools are both fast and reliable. "We use Informatica to manage our inventory and to load our data warehouse," says Mark Cothron, Ace Hardware's data warehouse architect. By year's end, Cothron is hoping to have 300 of the chain's more than 5,000 stores running point-of-sale, quantity-on-hand inventory maintenance tied to the warehouse on an hourly basis.
That attention comes at a price, however. "Informatica is somewhat expensive for small to mid-range companies," says Kevin Smith, manager of CRM strategies for AAA Carolinas, but its market expertise compensates somewhat, as does the fact that the firm "has continually been improving the PowerCenter product." Smith also notes that it was Informatica's development of a "proof-of-concept" that allowed AAA's deployment to receive the required funding.
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