From helicopter to enabler: The new face of enterprise IT

Can an IT organization effectively run a 2017 business on 25-year-old technology? As someone who played a large hand in developing the data integration technology in question — at Informatica, where I was CTO for nearly two decades — I can tell you that the answer is simple: “No.”

A vastly different primordial landscape

That said, I know that when Informatica was created, it was the best technology for data integration at the time. The world was a lot simpler in 1992: there were five databases that mattered, and they were all pretty similar. There were just a few ERP systems: Oracle, SAP and a young PeopleSoft. Informatica was ideally suited to that software baseline, and the scale-up UNIX platforms of that era. The web, obviously, was not in the picture.

IT organizations were also a lot simpler in 1992. If any business person wanted new tech functionality — a new workstation added to a network, or a new report from a client/server system — they put their request into the IT queue, because that was the only way to get it.

IT is still important; it’s just different

Fast-forward 25 years to 2017. Almost everything about that primordial technology landscape, when Informatica roamed the world, is different. For example, now there’s the web, the cloud, NoSQL databases, and best of breed application strategies that are actually viable. None of these existed when Informatica started. Every assumption from that time — the compute platform, scale-up/scale-out, data types, data volumes and data formats — is different.

IT organizations are radically different, too. The command-and-control IT organization of the past has transformed into a critical enablement function. IT still enables core operations by securing the enterprise and establishing a multitude of technology governance frameworks. But the actual procurement of end-user technology, such as analyzing data aggregated from across systems and across the enterprise, is increasingly in the hands of business users.

In other words, the role of IT is changing, but the importance of IT isn’t. It’s like parenting; as your kids grow your role changes. It’s less about helicoptering and more about enabling. Parents don’t become less important, but how we deliver value evolves.

This is a good analog to the changes in enterprise IT. The IT organization wants to enable users because it’s pretty impossible to keep up with the blistering pace of business growth and change. If the IT organization tries to control too much, at some point it starts holding the business back.

Smart IT organizations have realized their role in the modern enterprise is to help their business partners become more successful. SnapLogic delivers a vital piece of required technology; we help IT organizations to give their users the self-service data integration they need, instead of waiting for analysts to run an ETL through Informatica to pull the requested data together. By enabling self-service, SnapLogic is helping lines of business — most companies’ biggest growth drivers — to reach their full potential. If you’re a parent reading this, I know it will sound familiar.

Here’s another way to find out more about why IT organizations are embracing SnapLogic as a critical enabler: readSnapLogic’s new whitepaper that captures my conversation with Gaurav Dhillon, SnapLogic’s CEO and also an Informatica alumnus: “We left Informatica. Now you can, too.”

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James Markarian: Was the Election a Referendum on Predictive Analytics?

In his decades working in the data and analytics industry, SnapLogic CTO James Markarian has witnessed few mainstream events that have sparked as much discussion and elicited as many questions – around the value and accuracy of predictive analytics – as our recent election.

In a new blog post on Forbes, James examines where the nation’s top pollsters (who across the board predicted a different election outcome) possibly went wrong, why some predictions succeed and others fail, what businesses who have invested in data analytics can learn from the election, and how new technologies such as integration platform as a service (iPaaS) can help them make sense of all their data to make better predictions.

Be sure to read James’s blog, titled “What The Election Taught Us About Predictive Analytics”, on Forbes here.

7 Data Predictions for 2017

As data increasingly becomes the means by which businesses compete, companies are restructuring operations to build systems and processes liberating data access, integration and analysis up and down the value chain. Effective data management has become so important that the position of Chief Data Officer is projected to become a standard senior board level role by 2020, with 92 percent of CIOs stating that a CDO is the best person to determine data strategy.

With this in mind as you evaluate your data strategy for 2017, here are seven predictions to contemplate to build a solid framework for data management and optimization.

  1.  Self-Service Data Integration Will Take Off
    Eschewing the IT bottleneck designation and committed to being a strategic partner to the business, IT is transforming its mindset. Rather than be providers of data, IT will enable users to achieve data optimization on a self-service basis. IT will increasingly decentralize app and data integration – via distributed Centers of Excellence based on shared infrastructure, frameworks and best practices – thereby enabling line-of-business heads to gather, integrate and analyze data themselves to discern and quickly act upon insightful trends and patterns of import to their roles and responsibilities. Rather than fish for your data, IT will teach you how to bait the hook. The payoff for IT: satisfying business user demand for fast and easy integrations and accelerated time to value; preserving data integrity, security and governance on a common infrastructure across the enterprise; and freeing up finite IT resources to focus on other strategic initiatives.
  1. Big Data Moves to the Cloud
    As the year takes shape, expect more enterprises to migrate storage and analysis of their big data from traditional on-premise data stores and warehouses to the cloud. For the better part of the last decade, Hadoop’s distributed computing and processing power has made it the standard open source platform for big data infrastructures. But Hadoop is far from perfect. Common user gripes include complexity and instability – not all that surprising given all the software developers regularly contributing their improvements to the platform. Cloud environments are more stable, flexible, elastic and better-suited to handling big data, hence the predicted migration.
  1. Spark Usage Outside of Hadoop Will Surge
    This is the year we will also see more Spark use cases outside of Hadoop environments. While Hadoop limps along, Spark is picking up the pace. Hadoop is still more likely to be used in testing rather than production environments. But users are finding Spark to be more flexible, adaptable and better suited for certain workloads – machine learning and real-time streaming analytics, as examples. Once relegated to Hadoop sidekick, Spark will break free and stand on its own two feet this year. I’m not alone in asking the question: Hadoop needs Spark but does Spark need Hadoop?
  1. A Big Fish Acquires a Hadoop Distro Vendor?
    Hadoop distribution vendors like Cloudera and Hortonworks paved the way with promising technology and game-changing innovation. But this past year saw growing frustration among customers lamenting increased complexity, instability and, ultimately, too many failed projects that never left the labs. As Hadoop distro vendors work through some growing pains (not to mention limited funds), could it be that a bigger, deeper-pocketed established player – say Teradata, Oracle, Microsoft or IBM – might swoop in to buy their sought after technology and marry it with a more mature organization? I’m not counting it out.
  1. AI and ML Get a Bit More Mainstream
    Off the shelf AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) platforms are loved for their simplicity, low barrier to entry and low cost. In 2017, off the shelf AI and ML libraries from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and other vendors will be embedded in enterprise solutions, including mobile varieties. Tasks that have until now been manual and time-consuming will become automated and accelerated, extending into the world of data integration.

6. Yes, IoT is Coming, Just Not This Year
Connecting billions and billions of sensor-embedded devices and objects over the internet is inevitable, but don’t yet swallow all the hype. Yes, there is a lot being done to harness IoT for specific aims, but the pace toward the development of a general-purpose IoT platform is closer to a canter than a gallop. IoT solutions are too bespoke and purpose-built to solve broad, commonplace problems – the market still nascent with standards gradually evolving – that a general-purpose, mass-adopted IoT platform to collect, integrate and report on data in real-time will take, well, more time. Like any other transformation movement in the history of enterprise technology, brilliant bits and pieces need to come together as a whole. It’s coming, just not in 2017.

  1. APIs Are Not All They’re Cracked Up to Be
    APIs have long been the glue connecting apps and services, but customers will continue to question their value vs investment in 2017. Few would dispute that APIs are useful in building apps and, in many cases, may be the right choice in this regard. But in situations where the integration of apps and/or data is needed and sought, there are better ways. Case in point is iPaaS (integration platform as a service), which allows you to quickly and easily connect any combination of cloud and on-premise technologies. Expect greater migration this year toward cloud-based enterprise integration platforms – compared to APIs, iPaaS solutions are more agile, better equipped to handle the vagaries of data, more adaptable to changes, easier to maintain and far more productive.

I could go on and on, if for no other reason that predictions are informed “best guesses” about the future. If I’m wrong on two or three of my expectations, my peers will forgive me. In the rapidly changing world of technology, batting .400 is a pretty good statistic.

Fall is Here, and So is Our Fall 2016 Release!

Fall is the time to move your clocks back, get a pumpkin latte and slow down with the approaching cold weather. But not for SnapLogic! We continue to deliver integration tools with full force. After our Summer 201fall-2016-graphic6 release, which was feature-packed, the Fall 2016 release takes the SnapLogic platform to a whole new level by extending support for Teradata, introducing new Snap Packs for Snowflake and Azure Data Lake Store, adding more capabilities to Spark mode, and delivering several enhancements for security, performance and governance. As our VP of engineering, Vaikom Krishnan, aptly said, “We continue to make it easier and faster for organizations to connect any and all data sources – whether on premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments.”

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Making Workday Faster for Vassar College

Last week we attended Workday Rising in Chicago where we talked to attendees about integrating Workday with the rest of their IT ecosystems. The real stars of the show, however, were our customers from Vassar College who gave a brief presentation at our booth to discuss their journey from finding the need for an integration vendor, to assessing different platforms, to ultimately choosing SnapLogic’s elastic integration platform as a service (iPaaS).vassar-college-image-edited

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SnapLogic CTO James Markarian on DisrupTV

SnapLogic CTO James Markarian recently appeared as a guest on DisrupTV, a weekly live-interview web-series produced by analyst firm Constellation Research and hosted by R “Ray” Wang and Vala Afshar. The trio discussed a variety of enterprise topics including modern data management, data lake strategy considerations and big data analytics.

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Customer Spotlight: AstraZeneca

It’s always a treat to be able to share our customers’ inspiring success stories. MWD Advisors, a UK-based industry research and advisory services firm, recently spent time with our customer, global pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca. MWD published the results of that interview to their research subscribers in a report titled “AstraZeneca supports strategic cloud shift with ‘citizen integrator’ platform” (reprint provided here).

AstraZeneca early iPaaS success
AstraZeneca’s early iPaaS success

AstraZeneca started their journey with SnapLogic as part of an IT initiative to make their business process infrastructure more agile, and to incorporate cloud-based platforms and applications. They wanted to efficiently integrate SaaS systems and on-premises platforms without investing in a large, specialized integration team.

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