Informatica adds Java-based development tool

Informatica has developed a new Java-based tool for analytical applications.

Data integration and analytics software house Informatica has filled in a gap in its product line with a new Java-based

delivery platform for analytical applications.

The platform consists of the Analytics Server, for presenting Web-based dashboards and administrative consoles, and Informatica Mobile, for delivering the information to various mobile devices. The move is part of an industry-wide trend to simplify analytics so that decision makers, rather than specialists and power users, have a chance of using them.

The Analytics Server works in conjunction with Informatica's core data integration product line, PowerCenter, acting as a "flattened metadata layer." It is Informatica's first move into Java-based tools. It runs on top of BEA's WebLogic application server, with plans to add IBM's WebLogic and Sun's iPlanet. Dashboards are largely pre-built, but can be customized for different corporate roles, personalized with different chart and report formats, and used to follow predefined analytic workflow tasks. The idea is to make available a set of standard metrics for business performance.

The Mobile extension comes from Informatica's acquisition of mobile applications firm Zimba for $25 million in August last year. It supports the display of business metrics for Wireless Application Protocol phones, personal digital assistants, text pagers and RIM pagers.

At its user conference in San Francisco this week, Informatica also launched version 5 of its analytic applications suite. Applications 5 includes CRM, Web Channel (marketing), Business Operations (financial and human resources) and Supply Chain modules. The applications are the first to be built with the Analytics Server tool.

Over the last few years, Informatica has shifted its extract, transform and load engine from a batch system to real time, and added support for real-time infrastructure through partners such as Tibco, webMethods, Vitria and IBM (with MQSeries). Other partners and OEMs include Siebel, PeopleSoft, SAP, i2 and Manugistics. With the real-time shift, the company has moved away from data mining and turned instead to what it calls "metrics-driven management."

Even so, many of its partners are also potential competitors. SAP and Oracle compete across the whole stack of applications, and Microsoft has its own OLAP (online analytical processing) tools. Such companies have considerable leverage to bundle their products into wider packages for free. Informatica says it's not interested in the hard-core drill-down OLAP/ROLAP analytics user base, however, but focuses on "the other 95%" of users that are tackling more general problems across their enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain applications. Companies such as Actuate have recently been expressing similar ideas.

Informatica's most recent results look quite positive. In the third quarter, the company saw revenue reach $46.5 million, up from $42.8 million last year. The loss of $7.6 million was in line with analyst expectations. It expects to return to profitability next year.

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