On Wednesday, data integrity company Precisely announced a definitive agreement to acquire Infogix, a data governance, data catalog, and data quality vendor. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Precisely, recently acquired by private equity concerns Clearlake Capital Group and TA Associates, and which one year ago rebranded from its decades-old name, Syncsort, intends to round out its suite of data integrity products with Infogix’s data governance, data catalog, and data quality products, as well as its existing data services team.

Read about Syncsort’s past big data partnerships:

From big iron and big data to bigger ambitions

ZDNet spoke with Precisely’s Dan Barnhardt, VP of Communications and Brand Marketing and Ned Tadic, Public Relations Manager. The two explained that Precisely, which began as a mainframe data movement specialist in the 1960s, and added Hadoop and big data to its bag of tricks in the last decade, began to transition to a more modern strategy under CEO Josh Rogers, who took the helm in 2015. The erstwhile Syncsort acquired Trillium Software in 2016, to expand into the area of data quality, then purchased the software and data business of Pitney Bowes in December 2019, bringing data enrichment products and location-based intelligence to the portfolio.

Also read: Big Data week in review: Integrated features rule 

After the Pitney Bowes Software & Data acquisition, the company rebranded to Precisely in May, 2020, and announced a modular data integrity suite in October, 2020. The company’s strategy is to integrate the best-in-class capabilities from its portfolio into a single platform, to help its customers achieve a foundation of trusted data with maximum accuracy, consistency, and context. Precisely aims to transition this suite to a SaaS-based platform over the next couple of years, assisting its customers on their journey to the cloud. 

Missing links

The Infogix acquisition extends this data integrity suite, providing coverage for certain facets of data management not yet accommodated. Specifically, two big wins from this acquisition are Infogix’s data governance/data catalog facilities and its Data360 Analytics component, the last of which evolved from Infogix’s own acquisition of data prep technology from Lavastorm in 2018. Infogix’s data quality component was also a big draw, to sit alongside data quality tech derived from the Trillium and Pitney Bowes acquisitions, as Infogix’s DQ component is targeted to business users, in addition to technical users. Precisely believes that this user-friendliness will increase in importance as data is democratized across organizations and, as such, will be advantageous for its data integrity suite.

The Infogix acquisition also brings with it a seasoned data services team. This team communicates with customers to help them more effectively use the trusted data that the platform provides. Overall, Precisely aims to provide comprehensive capabilities across the field of data management, growing to become one provider for its customers in the area between source systems and analytic platforms, and the Infogix acquisition fits into this strategy by extending its suite of capabilities.

(Technical) debt to data society?

While vendors like Informatica, IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft cover numerous areas within data management, the space is actually very fragmented overall, with numerous vendors covering individual slices of it, including data prep and integration, data movement, data catalog, data lineage, master data management, data quality and data protection. The value proposition of a single vendor that can cover most or all of this broad territory is high, though the challenge in doing so is equally significant.

Precisely has made a strategy of increasing breadth through acquisition. This runs the risk of technical debt, not only from its own acquisitions, but also by the prior acquisitions of the companies it purchased, including Infogix’s acquisition of Data360 in 2017 and Lavastorm in 2018. While acknowledging the challenge, Precisely’s Barnhardt said the company will take it on by pursuing a modular approach, implementing the functionality within its suite as individual cloud services, rather than trying to pull them together into a tightly coupled, monolithic suite.

It will be interesting to see if the cloud and a microservices architecture can accelerate acquisitions and subsequently help integrate acquired technologies more successfully. Given the dizzying array of vendors and accompanying cyclical consolidation in the data and analytics space, such an audacious strategy is at least worth a try.

Pamela Steger contributed to the reporting in this post

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