Couple departmental autonomy with organizational consistency

An on-premise approach to self-service data integration promises benefits to both the business and IT.

“Give users the tools they need to do some things themselves, but in a way that puts some appropriate constraints and rules around it. Now you’ve actually gained control.”

—John Schmidt, vice president, Global Integration Services, at Informatica

As self-service data integration continues to mature in 2014, Integration Competency Centers (ICCs) will be challenged to maintain consistency across departments while encouraging autonomy. Self-service tools let the business directly access information, while at the same time letting IT retain control for governance. Potential at Work spoke with John Schmidt, vice president of Global Integration Services at Informatica, about this approach.

How does an on-premise approach to self-service data integration help an ICC gain control?

Schmidt: IT’s big fear with self-service is losing control. But if you do data integration the right way, you actually gain control. In other words, give users the tools they need to do some things themselves, but in a way that puts some appropriate constraints and rules around it. And now you’ve actually gained control.

Does that ensure all the information would be in one place?

Schmidt: Right. If you don’t give them tools or a path, they’ll do it themselves. Then you have Shadow IT. Right now it’s happening in a closet, and you don’t see it. So you’ve lost control.

PowerCenter Express, for example, provides a way to satisfy this unmet demand today. Currently, unmet demand is being addressed in secret, by all kinds of ad-hoc solutions to get at the data: screen-scraping, people taking flat files and manipulating them on their desktops. A lot of it is invisible. We’re going to meet that specific need by providing a tool at low cost but still supported. It can enable groups to serve themselves by providing that data access. That’s critical.

What are the advantages of PowerCenter Express for developers?

Schmidt: PowerCenter Express is basically full PowerCenter for free, targeted at developers with smaller projects. It doesn’t have the simplified user interface of the cloud. A lot of times people in individual departments are really tech-savvy. Some of them have pretty knowledgeable developers, and they’re comfortable with a development tool that has more of a developer user interface.

How does the IT department or the ICC help with data access?

Schmidt: By actually enabling access. One key requirement is whether the access is secure. The other is whether the system can actually handle the workload associated with another extract. Does it have the capacity? If it doesn’t have the capacity, someone has to do the capacity planning on that. So the ICC can play the role of operational governance and oversight, with the appropriate security controls—data privacy, access control—and put the infrastructure and processes in place to support that.

Give users the tools, whether it is access to a business object for their reporting tools so they can do their own reporting, access to PowerCenter Express so they can do their own data integration, or a cloud interface to do their own integration. Three different options let users do a lot more for themselves, while letting you retain appropriate governance and control.

For more information on the advantage of providing a range of data delivery styles, read Gartner’s 2013 Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools

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