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Informatica PowerCenter 7

Informatica announced PowerCenter 7 last month and it should be available sometime before Christmas. Phil Howard of IT-Director.com offers a brief preview of the product.


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Informatica PowerCenter 7
Informatica announced PowerCenter 7 last month and it should be available sometime before Christmas. In other words: any day now.

The first thing to say is that PowerCenter is now the brand name for the whole Informatica product set. The decision to get shot of its Analytic Applications suggested that the company was re-focusing on its core technology, and this simple branding suggests the same thing.

Not that the initial acquisition and development of these applications was an unalloyed failure. If it hadn't been for these applications Informatica would never have developed a front-end for them to make their use easier. And, if it hadn't done that it would never have introduced PowerAnalyzer.

Actually, there's virtually nothing new for PowerAnalyzer in this release except, and it is a big except, that it can be used in conjunction with the new data profiling facility that is introduced with this release. Of course, a lot of data profiling stuff simply requires tabular representation, for which PowerAnalyzer is not much use. But if you want to use the product to support ongoing quality assurance programmes, then you need to be able to compare today's quality results with yesterday's, for example, and you can use PowerAnalyzer to build the sort of dashboard monitoring environment that you need. You can also use PowerAnalyzer's guided analysis capability to support data quality research.

In case you haven't seen it, PowerAnalyzer is a neat business intelligence tool, and Informatica is particularly making inroads into the general purpose market with partners embedding into their own software at the front-end. It's also used as a front-end to the SuperGlue metadata environment that supports the PowerCenter family.

Returning to the new release, the data profiling built into the product is pretty good for a first release. It doesn't have the sort of automated redundant column identification that you would expect from more specialist tools, but then you wouldn't expect everything at this stage.

Another major emphasis is on performance. Informatica has implemented support for on-demand (grid) computing. Put simply, this will dynamically route tasks to available servers to support the distributed processing of workflows. Failover across the network is also supported. One other major performance boost has also been introduced thanks to the acquisition of Striva. This adds change-based data updating to the batch and real-time options that were previously available.

It is worth emphasising this performance. Informatica concedes that it has not been able to compete with Ab Initio on a pure performance basis over the last couple of releases of PowerCenter. It now reckons that it can match that product and the company therefore hopes to regain ground at the very top level.

Another major enhancement is the introduction of new facilities to support team-based development with versioning, check-in and out and so forth. New versions are stored in their entirety (no deltas or reverse deltas) but there is a purge option for versions; lock lists are available for inspection so that you can see who has checked something out; and there is the ability to export data to third party products such as Microsoft SourceSafe. Dependency and impact analysis were, of course, already available. Going back to our discussions about PowerAnalyzer, it would be possible to use this against team-based data if you wanted, say, to analyse the performance of different development groups. Of course there is a lot more that I don't have tome to describe here. However, I have written an in-depth review of the product that will be published shortly. In the meantime what can one say apart from: "what was good just got better"?


Copyright 2003. Originally published by IT-Director.com, reprinted with permission. IT-Director.com provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.

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