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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Cloud Based Solutions to Data Integration with Darren Cunningham, Informatica

October 4, 2012 1 Comment

Although Cloud Computing is no longer a new concept, the ability to optimize Cloud capabilities within your organization is invaluable.

In the interview below, Darren Cunningham from Informatica outlines ways in which implementing  a cloud integration and master data management (MDM) solution can not only benefit, but fortify your business.

    Q. In your opinion, how has cloud computing evolved over the last ten years to include a “true cloud based solution to data integration”?

A. The first wave of cloud adoption was driven by software as a service (SaaS) applications. Pioneered by companies like, these applications typically were sold directly to the business, with minimal (if any) involvement from the traditional IT department. While there was a great deal of small to mid-sized company adoption early on, there was just as much departmental purchasing taking place in larger companies due to the benefits of ease of use, the promise of rapid deployments and the operational expense appeal of the subscription pricing model.  On the IT side of the fence, I would characterize this as the “cloud skeptical” phase. On the business side, it was more like the Wild West. This is where cloud-based data integration first gained a foothold. Midsized companies and autonomous divisions and departments had limited technical resources but needed many of the same capabilities – data migration, synchronization, replication, and of course data quality.

Fast forward to today and IT organizations are increasingly becoming “cloud first.” Cloud deployments are becoming more complex, whether they are software, platform or infrastructure as a service; and the importance of broader cloud data management strategy is now recognized as the critical enabler of success. It’s a now truly a hybrid IT world. To avoid the perils of data fragmentation and “SaaS sprawl” business and IT organizations are starting to align around the need for trusted data. In some cases this will mean that data integration is delivered in the cloud for the same business agility benefits that are expected from SaaS applications. In other cases, an on-premise data integration platform may be more appropriate. The key is that there is flexibility and interoperability between both environments. Hybrid IT requires a hybrid data integration and data quality platform.

    Q. How does a master data management solution fit into all of this?

A. It makes complete sense that the cloud data integration conversation moves from point-to-point application integration to master data management (MDM). If you look at the SaaS application adoption numbers, it’s astonishing to see the growth in all segments of the market. I’ve heard analysts refer to it as “the new best of breed.” This is great news for innovation and business agility, but to truly gain the ROI from these investments, it’s critical that organizations have a single view of their customers, prospects, partners, products, etc.   And by the way, cloud MDM isn’t just about getting timely, relevant and trusted data across disparate applications, there are many organizations struggling to get a single view across multiple instances of the same vendor’s application. CRM in particular is a culprit here as the early adoption and implementation in the enterprise was often outside of the IT organization.  So now you’re seeing not only cloud-based data integration taking off, you’re seeing quite a bit of interest in cloud-based MDM. In both cases, the cloud data management strategy should be agnostic and where appropriate hybrid in nature. The key is that organizations investing in all things cloud don’t wait to integrate. Build a strategy and take advantage of cloud-based approaches to accelerate adoption and build alignment between business and IT. In parallel, consider how this will fit into your existing IT architecture and ensure that your cloud-based solutions can scale and grow with the increased data demands that they will inevitably face.

    Q. Many companies still see integration as a barrier to optimizing cloud computing. How can we shift their way of thinking to show that it is actually an accelerator?

A. I think cloud integration should be seen as an opportunity not as a threat. If you accept the premise that the business will continue to demand self-service and some degree of autonomy around their cloud applications, then the IT organization has to keep these objectives front and center as they consider their cloud integration and MDM strategy. IT generally has a much better handle on all aspects of governance, data security, and data management.  But they’re only going to align with the cloud crowd if there is a spirit of trust and collaboration. Easier said than done, right?

    Q. What do IT organizations need to do to take the next steps in embracing this?

A. Here are a few ideas:

  • * IT should establish a “Cloud First” strategy and roll out a plan to govern and manage all cloud-based assets.
  • * Establish guidelines and standards for selecting new cloud solutions.
  • * IT should do an audit of all of the SaaS applications the organization is already running. You’ll be amazed at how many are the same. Doing this could immediately lead to some SLA cost-savings benefits.
  • * IT should consider creating a Data Architect role if there isn’t one in place already.
  • * Consider also establishing a Center of Excellence for integration (also known as an Integration Competency Center). Pool your resources and share best practices. And always, make sure key business stakeholders are included.

The bottom line is when it comes to the cloud, don’t wait to integrate! Learn about how cloud integration and master data management approaches can accelerate overall adoption and ask your current vendors if they have the ability to extend their existing platform to the cloud and ensure a smooth path between both environments.

Darren CunninghamDarren Cunningham is the VP of Marketing for Informatica Cloud. He isresponsible for leading product, customer and program marketing initiativesfor Informatica cloud data integration business, which received the 2011CODiE Award for Best Cloud Management Solution and has been recognized customers as the best of AppExchange three years in a row.Prior to Informatica, Darren was VP of Marketing at LucidEra, an earlyentrant in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business intelligence market. Heled analytics product management and AppExchange data managementpartnerships at in 2006 and 2007 and spent 7 years atBusiness Objects, where he managed product marketing for many of thecompany’s primary business intelligence, data integration, operationalreporting, and performance management solutions. He holds a bachelor’sdegree from the University of Toronto.

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One Comments to “IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Cloud Based Solutions to Data Integration with Darren Cunningham, Informatica”
  1. […] how I answered the question in a recent interview: “The first wave of cloud adoption was driven by software as a service (SaaS) applications. […]

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