Informatica: Driven to Extraction

By Joshua Weinberger  |  Posted 2003-03-01

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 warehouse—the 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.

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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 analytics—so 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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Reference Checks & Company Info
Reference Checks

Ace Hardware
Mark Cothron
Data Warehouse Architect
(630) 990-8755
Project: An Informatica user since January 2001, the nationwide co-operative is tying the software in to a new e-commerce initiative.

Capital District Physicians' Health Plan
Todd Seeberger
Data Warehouse Analyst
(518) 641-4339
Project: Albany, N.Y.-based medical group has been using Informatica for two years, primarily as an ETL tool, and is currently testing a real-time deployment.

COPIC Insurance
Mark Stieg
Senior Technical Systems Designer
(720) 858-6110
Project: Just one year removed from a mainframe-based system, medical-malpractice underwriter has one division (risk management) pursuing analytics (with tool from Brio); uses Informatica mainly for extraction.

AAA Carolinas
Kevin Smith
Manager, CRM Strategies
(704) 569-7706
Project: Regional travel organization is using PowerCenter 6.1, mainly to load its SQL server data warehouse.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group
Everett Underwood
Manager, Database Support
(918) 669-2496
Project: Newly merged rental-car company uses PowerMart as a data warehousing tool.

Schneider National
Bob Grawien
VP, Application Development & Business Intelligence
(920) 592-2165
Project: Relies on Informatica to capture and cleanse transactional data; ETL processing runs off-shift rather than in real-time.
Executives listed here are all customers of Informatica. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Company Info

2100 Seaport Blvd.
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 385-5000


Gaurav Dhillon
President, CEO, Co-Founder
Before founding Informatica, he held various management and technical positions at Sterling Software and Unisys.

Clive Harrison
Executive VP, Worldwide Field Operations
Joined as VP, sales, in 1995 and expanded his role in 1998 to executive VP in charge of direct and channel sales worldwide.

Girish Pancha
Senior VP, Products
An early Informatica employee on PowerMart and PowerCenter, he was later co-founder and CEO at mobile-applications developer Zimba. Rejoined the company in 2000 when Zimba was acquired.

PowerCenter and recent additions PowerCenterRT (for real-time) and PowerAnalyzer; also, the "Applications Analytic Software Family" comprises analytics modules for Customer Relationship, Web Channel, Business Operations, Strategic Sourcing (Data Integration Platform and Analytic Workflows), and Supply Chain.