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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

About the author >

Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is currently director of BI Leadership Research, an education and research service run by TechTarget that provides objective, vendor neutral content to business intelligence (BI) professionals worldwide. Wayne’s consulting company, BI Leader Consulting, provides strategic planning, architectural reviews, internal workshops, and long-term mentoring to both user and vendor organizations. For many years, Wayne served as director of education and research at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) where he oversaw the company’s content and training programs and chaired its BI Executive Summit. He can be reached by email at weckerson@techtarget.com.

One of the best, least known business intelligence (BI) vendors is Dimensional Insight. Founded in 1989, the company has done what few BI vendors have managed to achieve in the past 25 years: maintain a growing base of staunchly loyal customers.

Without much fanfare, the Boston-based company has amassed 2600 customers in more than 30 countries, generating about $20 million a year in revenue. According to most independent customer satisfaction surveys, such as those from the Business Application Research Center (BARC) in Germany and Dresner Advisory Service, Dimensional Insights sits at the top of the pack in terms of overall customer ratings.

Dimensional Insight has very loyal customers, largely because the company has focused with laser intensity on a few markets, such as healthcare providers, wine and spirits, and manufacturing goods and services. In each of these areas, it has crafted custom applications that make it easy for customers to onboard the product and derive value quickly. Moreover, the company's flagship product, The Diver Solution, offers flexible navigation and rich visualization on top of a robust data integration platform. The product also offers a low total cost of ownership.

The company competes against Qlik in the healthcare and goods and services markets and niche vendors in the wine and spirits market. For more information, see www.dimins.com.


Posted August 18, 2014 3:50 PM
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Data integration is bread-and-butter technology. Never glamorous or sexy, it holds the key to opening data to business users. Until recently, most data was tabular, stored in relational databases, and pumped in batch from one system to another. Today, data is multi-structured and increasingly managed by cloud applications. Data integration platforms that don't keep up with the times are doomed to an early obsolescence.

One data integration vendor that is determined to stay relevant among changing tides of data management is SnapLogic. The San Mateo, California-based firm offers a data integration platform that runs both on premise and in the cloud so it can connect any application or data source either inside or outside the firewall. The design, management, and monitoring tools run as multi-tenant applications from HTML5-based browsers and almost any SnapLogic functionality can be triggered by events or scheduled jobs via its REST API. Moreover, the product manages multi-structured data using JSON rather than forcing data flow through a tabular format.

SnapLogic derives its name from pre-packaged data connectors that "snap" together in visual data pipelines in its design tool. SnapLogic offers hundreds of snaps for just about any application or database, both in the cloud or in the data center. The company is also venturing into big data integration with its Hadoop-based offering called SnapReduce 2.0 and pre-built data integration templates that support core processes, such as order to cash or source-to-target data flows from various source systems into Amazon Redshift.

For more information, see www.snaplogic.com


Posted August 15, 2014 3:26 PM
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Platfora is a three-year old company that is designed to provide real-time, ad hoc analysis of data stored in Hadoop. While most Hadoop enthusiasts are embracing real-time SQL query engines, such as Cloudera Impala, Platfora goes several steps further: it is a full-stack BI tool that comes with data wrangling, ad hoc visual discovery, and analytics, such as segmentation and behavioral analysis.

Best of all, Platfora is equipped to blend all types of data, including transaction data from operational systems, interaction data from emails, text documents, and call centers, and machine data from Web and application servers and sensor networks.

Platfora is an in-memory, distributed application that runs alongside Hadoop clusters, either on premise or in the cloud. Developers or highly skilled business use a visual design environment to create "Lenses"--personal data sets with a visual front-end that contain aggregated data from Hadoop. The Lenses run in Platfora's in-memory engine, providing subsecond query response time, allowing business users to analyze data at the speed of thought. And since Platfora maintains a metadata store, it maintains references to source data, enabling business users to drill into atomic data stored in Hadoop, if needed.

Platfora's biggest competitor is the do-it-yourselfer who tries to build custom analytical solutions themselves using Hadoop, MapReduce, Hive, and Pig. Platfora has applied its expertise to creating a scalable, fast analytical platform so customers can focus on analyzing data rather than building and maintain the tools to do the analysis. Platfora manages metadata, security,

For more information, see www.platfora.com.


Posted August 15, 2014 2:28 PM
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Silicon Valley startup X15 Software recently shipped a data analytics solution designed to help companies capture, store, and analyze petabytes of machine-generated log files from Web and application servers, among other things. The on-premises solution which runs on the Hadoop Distributed File System provided by major Hadoop vendors, such as MapR, Cloudera, and Hortonworks, supports real-time SQL queries against streaming log data.

Called X15 Enterprise, the big data solution competes against search-based, log management tools, such as Splunk, which must move data from Hadoop into a proprietary engine to index and search the data, which limits their scalability. And since most search-based tools don't leverage SQL, this limits their ability to query both traditional relational data and semi-structured log data in a single pass, limiting their usefulness.

In contrast, X15 Software runs on a company's existing Hadoop cluster so they don't have to move the data to a separate engine. The company has created SQL extensions that handle search-based functions, so users can query, join, and analyze both log data and relational data in the same SQL query. The product works with SQL-based BI tools via ODBC/JDBC and it has inked a partnership with Tableau. The product also supports REST and proprietary interfaces.

X15 Software is based in San Mateo, California. www.X15soft.com.


Posted August 13, 2014 2:35 PM
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Qubole is a new breed of analytic software company that runs on Hadoop in the public cloud. The ideal customer is one that already runs a lot of applications in the cloud and wants to accelerate the time it takes to make big data available to business analysts and data scientists.

Qubole's big competitor is Amazon Web Services and its Elastic MapReduce (EMR) offering, which provides the Hadoop platform as a cloud-based service. Unlike EMR, Qubole was designed from scratch to support queries and analytics. Also, the service is geared t business analysts and data scientists, not Java and other developers, so it is easier to use.

Qubole officials says its queries run faster than EMR  and offers better total cost of ownership since the service abstracts much more of the complexity of provisioning and managing an analytical data service on Hadoop  in the cloud. Qubole competes with other rising cloud-based analytics vendors, such as Altiscale, Mortar Data, and Treasure Data. 

Qubole is based in Mountain View, California. Its Web site is www.qubole.com.


Posted July 22, 2014 6:52 AM
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