Want to work with your Salesforce.com data in Oracle or SQL Server? No time to build your own custom integration? From today, you can use Informatica On Demand, a hosted service from the enterprise data integration vendor. I'm highlighting this new service because it breaks decisively with the tradition that data integration is messy, complex and costly, at the same time as illustrating several key principles of the on-demand model:
- Try before you buy — There's no requirement to buy the software upfront and then pay for busloads of consultants to tinker with it for weeks before you can even start using it. It's online now and you can sign up at no charge for a 30-day, full-function trial.
- Get started right away — Since the software is already up-and-running at the provider's datacenter, you don't have to wait to get started. Just configure the settings and then start using it. Even in the beta trial, customers have gone live with their integration the same day they first learned of the service. The Informatica On Demand website claims it can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes to set up (see picture).
- Fixed price, predictable return — After the 30-day free trial is over, the service costs a flat $1500 per month. Having had a chance to put it through its paces, you'll know by then exactly what it can do for you and whether that's going to be worth what you'll be paying.
- Shared economies of scale — Everyone uses the same multi-tenanted code, so no one has to waste effort reinventing the wheel to set up exactly the same integration platform that dozens or hundreds of other companies already use. Granted, this isn't the kind of high-end integration that Informatica's core customer base goes in for. It's highly repeatable, bread-and-butter integration work that was previously out of reach for many businesses because it was only available as a custom implementation.
- A platform for business innovation — The ease of getting started and low, predictable cost make it possible for businesses to combine and use data in ways they had never before considered feasible or worthwhile. It empowers businesses to get to grips with their data without having to go through the expensive and distorting filter of IT consultants.
John Hegstrom, director of product management for on demand products and services — who led Salesforce.com's integration team before joining Informatica — told me today that the company believes its on-demand service will open up a new market.
"What [these buyers] are interested in is something that's fast to implement and they can control themselves. We view this as a product line that's complementary [to our existing products] and really serves a market that we've not served before."
The service launched today is the first of a planned family of offerings. Initially targeting Salesforce.com users — it connects to the Apex API so customers must be signed up for either the enterprise or unlimited edition — the first service is for integration to either an Oracle or a Microsoft SQL Server database. As de facto converts to the on-demand model, Salesforce.com users are seen as a natural initial target market for on-demand integration.
Footnote: Long-term SaaS afficianados will be intrigued to learn that Informatica's on-demand offering is being hosted at USinternetworking, which back in the day was the leading light of the first wave of ASPs before later falling on hard times. As well as hosting enterprise applications, USi also offered hosting to on-demand ISVs and it's good to hear it's still engaged in that business today.