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Managed Services to Support the Big Data Business Analyst: A Q&A with Hannah Smalltree of Treasure Data

Originally published January 13, 2014

This BeyeNETWORK article features Ron Powell’s interview with Hannah Smalltree, director of marketing for Treasure Data. Hannah explains that Treasure Data’s core competency is data management and that they provide a managed service in the cloud that covers the entire data pipeline.
Hannah, I know that Treasure Data is in the cloud. Can you discuss what the platform offers?

Hannah Smalltree: Treasure Data is a managed service. We are the first cloud data service covering the entire data pipeline. And by that we mean the process of acquiring data or collecting it from the sources where it is created, then managing and analyzing that data for value. Actually getting the data into the cloud is often a huge challenge for any kind of big data project. We offer services for data acquisition, for storage and for analysis. As a managed service, we offer all of those essentially in a black box environment. We’re happy to tell you exactly what’s in that black box, but essentially as the data comes into our service, we handle all of the management of that data, and you focus on analysis. So within a few minutes of data being created on the web server, application server, transaction server or wherever it’s being created, it can be streamed or bulk imported into our service, and then is available for analysis within a few minutes without you needing to do any of those DBA tasks that you were formerly required to handle.

So it’s a complete end-to-end solution?

Hannah Smalltree: It is a complete end-to-end solution, and it’s a managed service. That’s really what distinguishes it from a lot of other things in the cloud or different cloud platforms. With Treasure Data, you don’t need to have any cloud IT skills. You can use good old SQL syntax to analyze the data. You can use your favorite business intelligence tools to analyze the data in the cloud and not have to worry about any of the data management.

What’s involved with the data acquisition process?

Hannah Smalltree: We offer a lightweight tool we call Treasure Agent. This tool helps with data acquisition. It sits right on the servers where the data is created and streams data into our service. That is the only piece of software that needs to be installed to use the Treasure Data service. You could also use our bulk import tool and not use any additional software at all. Once those data collectors are set up, the data streams into our service and is ready for analysis in just a few minutes.

When we’re talking about big data, wouldn’t that create a problem from a network aspect?

Hannah Smalltree: Our approach with these Treasure Agent collectors is that the data is streaming in as it’s collected. You don’t have to stage the data and then push a huge bulk of it up a pipe all at once. You’re sending smaller batches of data. Our Treasure Agent data acquisition technology provides compression and transformation capabilities so that you’re sending smaller bits of data up to our service on an ongoing basis. That means your data is available in the cloud in a much more real-time way, and you’re not running into those network bandwidth issues that come with trying to push giant volumes of big data into the cloud.

Well that’s important. How does your storage layer work?

Hannah Smalltree: We have our own proprietary storage infrastructure. We focus on management, monitoring and security. We keep each customer’s data isolated from other customers’ data.  And we manage that entire storage infrastructure. We also offer a management console so at any time you can see exactly what’s going on with your data. This often helps IT departments feel more comfortable with the service because they can always look at what’s going on directly within the service. We offer access control to help with governance. So really we handle all of the storage infrastructure, but we give you full visibility into it and full control over who has access to that data.

Is it easy to learn the storage side?

Hannah Smalltree: It’s very, very intuitive. Our service is really focused on simplicity—how do we make it simple for people to get data and then be able to analyze it without dealing without the really complex data management aspects in between. That’s our core competency—data management. We’ll handle that part, and you can focus on analysis and focusing on applying that to make your business better.

How would I handle analysis after it’s implemented?

Hannah Smalltree:
We offer a few different choices. We just announced in our most recent release a Treasure Viewer tool. That allows you to explore the data that you have in the service. This is more along the lines of the charts that you might build in Excel. So it’s very basic visualization so you can explore the data once it lands in the service. You can also use SQL syntax on the data. So people who want to do a lot of joins and aggregations or are just more comfortable working in SQL can use good old SQL to analyze the data. The third option, which is really popular, is connecting your favorite BI tool with the Treasure Data service. We’ve also announced a partnership with Tableau, and a lot of our customers are very interested in using Tableau to analyze data stored within Treasure Data. We also support other tools—Metric Insights and most of the popular BI tools. You can use Treasure Viewer to do some basic exploration. You can use SQL, especially if you want to do anything more complex or more processing kind of operations, joins and aggregations. Or, you can use your favorite BI tool to do more visualizations and more complex analytics.

What are the benefits your customers are seeing from Treasure Data? Can you give us some examples?

Hannah Smalltree:
The big one is time to value. Our customers get up and running in 14 days or less—sometimes just hours. I talked to one customer who swore to me it took two hours to deploy our Treasure Agent data collectors. Those are about 2 lines of code, so they’re really lightweight agents. They can be deployed across sometimes thousands of servers, depending on how it’s architected. So once that’s set up and the data is streaming into the service, we take care of everything from there. We get our customers up and running very quickly so that in 14 days or less you have a fully functioning, end-to-end analytics infrastructure without having to buy hardware or acquire specialized DBA skills. If you know analytics, we can get you up and running with data collection, and then you just focus on analysis. Time to value is the biggest benefit that we’re seeing. Another benefit is the ability to be real time. We’ve had people who were in Hadoop environments that were very batch-oriented come to Treasure Data so they could see data within five minutes of it being created, thereby reducing data analysis latency.

Hannah, that sounds expensive. How expensive is it?

Hannah Smalltree:
It is not expensive—I’m so glad you asked. We offer this service at a flat monthly rate, which is great for our customers because it’s a very predictable cost. Now that rate is based on the amount of data that you want to store and the amount of processing power that you need. We have a few different tiers, and you might move between them depending on your needs. We also offer some unique capabilities to handle your peak performance, for example if you need to go outside of your tier because you’re running an ad campaign and you’re suddenly getting a lot of traffic. One of our online gaming companies has this need when they launch a new game. You can burst and get a little more performance outside of your tier just for a short amount of time and still not have your price be affected. It’s very reasonable. Our packages start at $3,000 per month. For a big data analytics solution, that is a very good deal.

There is one more thing I want to mention about our service. We are growing exponentially. As people get the service in house, they get inspired and they see all of the different things they can do with data. In August of this year we had one trillion rows loaded into our service. By November, we had two trillion rows loaded into our service. And by the end of December in this year of 2013, we are on track to have three trillion rows of data loaded into the service. We love managing data. We love scaling our system to manage our customers’ data, and we love hearing about the success stories once people can focus on analysis of data and not have to worry about data management. Getting people up and running quickly, showing value, transforming their businesses—that’s what we’re all about.

Well with the difficulty in getting talented resources to put these big data infrastructures in place, it sounds like your pricing is really very good.

Hannah Smalltree: Yes, and I encourage people to try Treasure Data. We have a starter service that is free. You can test the service to see if it will work for you. It’s kind of a no-brainer to at least test it and see if it could have a place within your data management ecosystem.

Sounds great. Hannah, thank you for spending the time to tell us about Treasure Data’s cloud data service that covers the entire data pipeline for analytics.

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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