The company is starting what it calls the industry's first on-demand data replication service, designed to allow Salesforce.com customers to transfer copies of their sales and marketing data to their own database servers.
Informatica is expanding the software as a service concept from the enterprise applications sector into the data infrastructure realm with the March 8 introduction of its on-demand data integration service.
Informaticas On Demand Data Replicator will enable Salesforce.com customers to replicate the corporate sales and marketing data currently hosted on the Salesforce.com servers and move it to their own in-house servers for backup, security and business analysis.
The data replication will let Salesforce.com customers access their data at any time from inside their own firewalls even if the Salesforce.com CRM (customer relationship management) system happens to be out of service, company officials said.
Some companies have hesitated to make a large-scale shift to SAAS (software as a service) applications, such as CRM, because they are concerned about important corporate data, including sales leads and orders, being stored outside of corporate headquarters in the servers of the application-hosting company.
Informaticas data integration service, which is based on the companys PowerCenter platform, resolves concerns about data security and at the same time gives smaller companies access to a data replication system that they wouldnt typically be able to afford, said Robert Bois, research director with AMR Research.
The data replicator is targeted at Salesforce.coms traditional audience, which is SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that dont have a large or sophisticated IT infrastructure, Bois said.
By going to market with an SAAS version of its technology, Informatica is enabling Salelsforce.com customers to access an enterprise-class data integration system, "but without making the big upfront cash layout," he said.
The larger companies that Salesforce.com is currently signing up usually already have the kind of data integration system that Informatica markets, which lets them move data back and forth between the remote hosted system and their on-premises systems, Bois said.
However, "the even bigger story is that you are starting to see traditional infrastructure vendors are now starting to offer software as a service, which is a relatively new phenomenon," he said.
IT customers and people in the investment and software vendor communities are starting to show interest in "tools like business intelligence, analytics, data integration [and] application integration" that are delivered as on-demand services, Bois said.
"I think that maybe a year or two ago it probably would have been too early, in that organizations were still trying to come to terms with their objections about using SAAS for a key application within the company," but many organizations have started to resolve the concerns that they had about using SAAS, he said.
Informatica has also designed the service to make it as easy as possible for companies to sign up, according to John Hegstrom, product management director for the Informatica On Demand Data Replicator.
Customers can sign up for a 30-day free trial at Informaticas Web site. Prospective customers must have a relational database running on their site and must provide their Salesforce.com account credentials, Hegstrom said. Informatica accesses customers Salesforce.com data through the Salesforce.com API.
The customers select the data objects they want to replicate and then they decide whether they want to run the data replication on a weekly, daily or hourly basis.
"They do all of this with the browser and literally they can be up and running in less than an hour," Hegstrom said.
While Informatica, of Redwood Shores, Calif., is launching the on-demand replication service on the Salesforce.com platform, Hegstrom said the company could offer a similar service for other on-demand application services.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.