Informatica offers data integration software by the hour on Amazon EC2

Informatica has made its data integration software available via Amazon's EC2 for an hourly rate of $24.95. But is there a market for integrating strictly cloud-based apps?

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Last week, Informatica became the first data integration software vendor to offer its technology fully deployed in the cloud.

It also became the first to offer the use of its technology for an hourly rate.

Informatica PowerCenter Cloud Edition is available on Amazon's Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) for $24.95 per hour. The company said the hourly rate is aimed at companies with only a few applications deployed in EC2 and which need only occasional data integration services.

By hosting data integration software on EC2, customers can take advantage of Amazon's vast infrastructure, according to Chris Boorman, Informatica's head of marketing. When integrating data from one EC2-based application to another, he said, it only makes sense to put the data integration software on EC2 as well.

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"The critical thing here if you have apps running on Amazon, you want your data integration software running near where that data is," Boorman said. "It allows you to take advantage of the high bandwidth connectivity in that Amazon infrastructure."

Most EC2 customers don't have their entire IT infrastructure in the cloud, however. Such customers would be unlikely to purchase a perpetual license for cloud-based data integration with such limited applicable use cases.

"There are many situations where you may have running … data integration for an hour in a batch process," Boorman said. With the $24.95 hourly rate, companies can use the Informatica software to run – and pay for -- data integration only when they need it, he said.

The hope, of course, is that as more companies deploy applications in the cloud, Informatica will be ready and waiting to help them integrate data into and between applications. Informatica already offers software tailored for integrating data between cloud-based applications and on-premise applications.

"As data volumes grow, it is expected that customers either scale up their Amazon EC2 instance [from Large to Extra-Large or High CPU Extra-Large] or expand horizontally by deploying more PowerCenter Cloud edition instances to accommodate larger volumes," Boorman wrote in a follow-up email interview.

But whether companies will become comfortable deploying applications with critical corporate data in the cloud, and hence need data integration software to support such deployments, is still an open question.

IDC estimates that the cloud computing market stands at just over $16 billion but will grow to $42 billion by 2012. In its most recent Magic Quadrant report on the topic, Gartner said the data integration tools market reached $1.4 billion at the end of 2007 and predicted that it would enjoy an annual compound growth rate of 17% through 2012.

Should demand for data integration between cloud-based apps truly take off, Informatica will be in a good position to capatilize, said Rob Karel, an analyst covering data integration and data quality for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

As of now, however, cloud computing is mainly attractive to small and medium-sized businesses that lack the resources to support on-premise deployments. But their data integration needs are usually fairly limited, Karel said. "[Consequently] I don't expect this to be a big money-maker for Informatica."

Informatica said it currently has 250 customers beta-testing PowerCenter Cloud Edition but would not reveal their names. Boorman did say that Informatica itself was using the service to integrate data between applications it has running on EC2.

But Peter Vanderhaak, Informatica's IT director, said that although "Amazon is going to be part of our future as an IT organization," the company is, in fact, not yet using its own cloud-based data integration technology to integrate data between cloud-based apps.

Informatica is using its own technology to integrate data between an on-premise PeopleSoft deployment and employee expense management software on EC2, Vanderhaak said. The company plans to use its PowerCenter Cloud Edition deployed on EC2 to integrate data between strictly cloud-based apps at some point, he said, but has had no need for it yet.

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