Informatica’s Complex Data Exchange (CDE), recently launched into the local market at Informatica South Africa’s monthly user group, is already being used by at least two large South African corporations.

Several other operations in a variety of industries, that experience the same internal and external data transformation frustration, are also investigating the product.
“Most of the data in organisations today is complex, which is historically difficult to access and integrate with other corporate data,” says Paul van Aswegen, GM of Informatica South Africa. “It effectively prevents companies from optimising their business processes and interferes with their decision making.”
CDE is the result of Informatica’s Itemfield acquisition, a company previously based in Israel, in November 2006.
The need to exchange complex data in a variety of integration scenarios that span batch and realtime processing as well as business intelligence is a long-standing business issue. Today its need is prevalent in service oriented architectures (SOAs), cross-enterprise data exchange, straight-through processing, and end-to-end business process integration.
“One potential South African customer we met operates a lending business and he wants to monitor his business activity,” says Mark Simons, account manager, Complex Data Exchange, EMEA at Informatica. “Excel spreadsheets proliferate in his industry and we estimate that generally 85% of all business data is held in an unstructured format.”
One customer already using CDE is a large local motor manufacturer and another is one of the big four banks.
Informatica’s product creates a bi-directional transformation layer between an organisation’s operational business system and any other applications it runs and those of its customers, partners and suppliers.
CDE Libraries include pre-built transformations for messaging standards in the different verticals, HL7 (healthcare), SWIFT (financial), AL3 (insurance) and more.
Complex XML-based messaging standards such as ACORD, Rosettanet and FpML can be converted to any simpler format.
Microsoft Office documents, Adobe PDF and other binary formats are supported through processors that automatically convert them into text.
“It pulls data from any internal and external source application into your operational systems and will also push it back out,” says Ophir Chen, technical pre-sales consultant, Complex Data Exchange at Informatica. “That includes organisations trading data via semi-standards, such as SWIFT and others like it.
“We have a customer in the Nordic region, in the phone manufacturing business, sharing financial information with many smaller suppliers and channel partners. In that case the suppliers go to a portal to upload their spreadsheet and have it automatically transformed and entered into the phone manufacturer’s operational system. It also operates in reverse.
“The product doesn’t do the connectivity – just the transformation. Whatever you are implementing to wrap the transformation is up to you – you can use a Web portal, e-mail, even run it within the system between SAP and a mainframe, for example. A product like Informatica PowerCenter does the connectivity.”
The primary benefits of Informatica’s product are that it is a packaged application that doesn’t require programmers to write and maintain reams of complex and proprietary code. It operates from a central transformation layer created once and deployed anywhere.
“Migrating between versions of other products often requires rewriting of the transformation logic; that goes without saying when migrating between different applications. With our product, the same transformation will work between different versions of the wrapping application and even more importantly between different applications,” says Chen.
“Think of a bank, for example, that receives a transaction that needs to be processed in the same way for two different applications – for various reasons you would have two different implementations for the same thing, where if using CDE, both applications could use the same transformation.
“Your business systems and office productivity applications may go through changes, revisions and upgrades, but you never need to change the transformation engine.”