Informaticais expected to unveil a range of products for its growing data integration platform. Informatica PowerCenter is aimed at providing users with a single means of synchronising data across multiple systems.

Data integration technology is a growing market as companies look for ways to create a consolidated view of data scattered across myriad internal and external systems. The technology lets users query data that's physically scattered as if it were in a single repository.

It's a market many vendors (including heavyweights IBM, BEA Systems and Oracle) are eyeing Informatica's data integration products build on its legacy in the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) and data warehouse markets.

Informatica is planning three major releases of its PowerCenter platform over the next two years, starting with this week's launch of PowerCenter Advanced Edition.

The new version, due to start shipping next month, bundles Informatica's current PowerCenter data integration platform with its SuperGlue metadata management capabilities and PowerAnalyzer viewing and reporting features, said Karen Steele, vice president of corporate marketing at Informatica. In addition, it adds Informatica's team-based development tools, designed to streamline processes among multiple teams of developers; and its server grid capabilities, which allow users to run PowerCenter on a heterogeneous server grid.

"All of these products will now be combined in the Advanced Edition in one platform, one edition, and a single install that will install all of the products in under an hour," Steele said.

The next two releases due out from Informatica are code-named Zeus and Hercules.

Zeus, which is due before the end of the year, is focused on expanding the platform to allow users to wrap in external data sources. New features will include RSA encryption and compression, which will bolster security and performance when users share data with trading partners or service providers, Steele says. The vendor also plans to add more fault-tolerant and failover capabilities to the Zeus edition of PowerCenter.

Zeus will be able to support more data types than earlier versions, including unstructured and semi-structured documents. For example, the software will allow the exchange of documents that comply with UCCnet standards. A nonprofit subsidiary of the Uniform Code Council, UCCnet offers data pool services for validating and publishing product information used primarily by retailers and manufacturers.

Next up after Zeus is Hercules, due to be available in 2006. The Hercules edition of PowerCenter is Informatica's implementation of a service-oriented architecture platform. With a services-based approach, Hercules will allow users to integrate and deliver data more flexibly - choosing batch mode, real-time or on-the-fly data integration, for example, as projects require.

The Hercules edition adds a user interface aimed at masking the complexity of data integration from business users, who will able to access the data they need without necessarily knowing the nuts and bolts of coding integration projects.