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At its annual industry analyst summit last month and in a more recent announcement of enterprise support for parallelizing the R language on its Aster Discovery Platform, Teradata showed that it is adapting to changes in database and analytics technologies. The presentations at the conference revealed a unified approach to data architectures and value propositions in a variety of uses including the Internet of Things, digital marketing and ETL offloading. In particular, the company provided updates on the state of its business as well as how the latest version of its database platform, Teradata 15.0, is addressing customers’ needs for big data. My colleague Mark Smith covered these announcements in depth. The introduction of scalable R support was discussed at the conference but not announced publicly until late last month.

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_13_advanced_analytics_on_big_dataTeradata now has a beta release of parallelized support for R, an open source programming language used significantly in universities and growing rapidly in enterprise use. One challenge is that R relies on a single-thread, in-memory approach to analytics. Parallelization of R allows the algorithm to run on much larger data sets since it is not limited to data stored in memory. For a broader discussion of the pros and cons of R and its evolution, see my analysis. Our benchmark research shows that organizations are counting on companies such as Teradata to provide a layer of abstraction that can simplify analytics on big data architectures. More than half (54%) of advanced analytics implementations are custom built, but in the future this percentage will go down to about one in three (36%).

Teradata’s R project has three parts. The first includes a Teradata Aster R library, which supplies more than 100 prebuilt R functions that hide complexity of the in-database implementation. The algorithms cover the most common big data analytic approaches in use today, which according to our big data analytics benchmark research are classification (used by 39% of organizations), clustering (37%), regression (35%), time series (32%) and affinity analysis (29%). Some use innovative approaches available in Aster such as Teradata’s patented nPath algorithm, which is useful in areas such as digital marketing. All of these functions will receive enterprise support from Teradata, likely through its professional services team.

The second part of the project involves the R parallel constructor. This component gives analysts and data scientists tools to build their own parallel algorithms based on the entire library of open source R algorithms. The framework follows the “split, apply and combine” paradigm, which is popular among the R community. While Teradata won’t support the algorithms themselves, this tool set is a key innovation that I have not yet seen from others in the market.

Finally, the R engine has been integrated with Teradata’s SNAP integration framework. The framework provides unified access to multiple workload specific engines such as relational (SQL), graph (SQL-GR), MapReduce (SQL-MR) and statistics. This is critical since the ultimate value of analytics rests in the information itself. By tying together multiple systems, Teradata enables a variety of analytic approaches. More importantly, the data sources that can be merged into the analysis can deliver competitive advantages. For example, JSON integration, recently announced, delivers information from a plethora of connected devices and detailed Web data.

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_09_use_cases_for_big_data_analyticsTeradata is participating in industry discussions about both data management and analytics. As Mark Smith discussed, its unified approach to data architecture addresses challenges brought on competing big data platforms such as Hadoop and other NoSQL approaches like that one announced with MongoDB supporting JSON integration. These platforms access new information sources and help companies use analytics to indirectly increase revenues, reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. Analytics applied to big data serve a variety of uses, most often cross-selling and up-selling (for 38% of organizations), better understanding of individual customers (32%) and optimizing price (30%) and IT operations (24%). Teradata is active in these areas and is working in multiple industries such as financial services, retail, healthcare, communications, government, energy and utilities.

Current Teradata customers should evaluate the company’s broader analytic and platform portfolio, not just the database appliances. In the fragmented and diverse big data market, Teradata is sorting through the chaos to provide a roadmap for largest of organizations to midsized ones. The Aster Discovery Platform can put power into the hands of analysts and statisticians who need not be data scientists. Business users from various departments, but especially high-level marketing groups that need to integrate multiple data sources for operational use, should take a close look at the Teradata Aster approach.


Tony Cosentino

VP & Research Director

Information Builders announced two major new products at its recent annual user summit. The first was InfoDiscovery, a tool for ad hoc data analysis and visual discoveryThe second was iWay Sentinel, which allows administrators to manage applications in a proactive and dynamic manner. Being a privately held company, Information Builders is not a household name, but it is a major provider of highly scalable business intelligence (BI) and information management software to companies around the world.

VRMobileBIVI_HotVendorThis year’s announcements come one year after the release of WebFOCUS 8.0, which I wrote about at the time. Version 8.0 of this flagship BI product includes a significant overhaul of the underlying code base, and its biggest change is how it renders graphics by putting the parameters of the HTML5 graph code directly inside the browser. This approach allows consistent representation of the business intelligence graphics in multiple device environments including mobile ones. Our research into information optimization shows that mobile technology improves business performance significantly in one out of three organizations. The graphics capability helped Information Builders earn the rating of Hot vendor in our latest Value Index on Mobile Business Intelligence. It is an increasingly important trend to combine analytics with transactional systems in a mobile environment. Our research shows that mobile business intelligence is advancing quickly. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of participants said they expect their mobile workforce to have BI capabilities in the next 12 months.

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_12_benefits_of_visualizing_big_dataWebFOCUS InfoDiscovery represents the company’s new offer in the self-service analytics market. For visual discovery it enables users to extract, blend and prepare data from various data sources such as spreadsheets, company databases and third-party sources. Once the analytic data set is created, users can drill down into the information in an underlying columnar database. They can define queries as they go and examine trends, correlations and anomalies in the data set. Users given permission can publish the visualization from their desktop to the server for others to view or build further. Visualization is another area of increasing importance for organizations. Our research on big data analytics said data visualization has a number of benefits; the most-often cited are faster analytics (by 49%), understanding content (48%), root-cause analysis (40%) and displaying multiple result sets at the same time (40%).

InfoDiscovery is Information Builders’ contender in the new breed of visual discovery products. The first generation of visual discovery products drew attention for their visual capabilities, ease of use and agility. More recently, established business intelligence vendors, of which Information Builders is one, have focused on developing visual discovery tools on the platform of their well-known BI products, with the aim of taking advantage of their maturity. Currently this second wave of tools is still behind the first in terms of ease of use and visual analysis but are advancing rapidly, and they can provide better data governance, version control, auditing and user security. For instance, InfoDiscovery uses the same metadata as the enterprise platform WebFOCUS 8 so objects from both InfoDiscovery and other WebFOCUS applications can be configured in the same user portal. When a business user selects a filter, the data updates across all the components in the dashboard. The HTML5 rendering engine, new in WebFOCUS 8.0, makes the dashboard available to various devices including tablets and smartphones.

vr_oi_how_operational_intellegence_is_usedThe other major announcement at the conference, iWay Sentinel, is a real-time application monitoring tool that helps administrators manage resources across distributed systems. It works with iWay Service Manager, which is used to manage application workflows. IWay Sentinel allows multiple instances of Service Manager to be viewed and managed from a single Web interface, and administrators can address bottlenecks in system resources both manually and automatically. The tool belongs in the category we call operational intelligence and as our research finds, activity and event monitoring is the most important use (for 62% of research participants), followed by alerting and notification.

Sentinel is an important product in the Information Builders portfolio for a couple of reasons. Tactically speaking, it enables large organizations that are running multiple implementations of iWay Service Manager to manage infrastructure resources in a flexible and streamlined manner. From a strategic perspective, it ties the company to the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), which connects devices and real-time application workflows across a distributed environment. In such an environment, rules and processes flows must be monitored and coordinated in real time. Information is passed along an enterprise service bus that enables synchronous interaction of various application components. The use of IoT is in multiple areas such as remote management of devices, telematics and fleet management, predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and utlilities monitoring. The challenge is that application software is often complex and its processes are interdependent. For this reason, most approaches to the IoT have been proprietary in nature. Even so, Information Builders has a large number of clients in various industries, especially retail, that may be interested in its approach.

Information Builders continues to innovate in the changing IT industry and business demand for analytics and data, building on its integration capabilities and its core business intelligence assets. The breadth and depth of its software portfolio enable the company to capitalize on these assets as demand shifts. For instance, temporal analysis is becoming more important; Information Builders has built that capability into its products for years. In addition, the company’s core software is hardened by years of meeting high-concurrency needs. Companies that have thousands of users need this type of scalable, battle-tested system.

Both iWay Sentinel and InfoDiscovery are in limited release currently and will be generally available later this year. Users of other Information Builders software should examine InfoDiscovery and assess its fit in their organizations. For business users it offers a self-service approach on the same platform as the WebFOCUS enterprise product. IT staff can uphold their governance and system management responsibilities through visibility and flexible control of the platform. For its part iWay Sentinel should interest companies that have to manage multiple instances of information applications and use iWay Service Manager. In particular, retailers, transportation companies and healthcare companies exploring IoT uses should consider how it can help.

Information Builders is exploiting the value of data into what is called information optimization for which they are finding continued growth in providing information applications that meet specific business and process needs. Information Builders is also beginning to further exploit the big data sources and mobile technology areas but will need to further invest to ensure it can be part of a spectrum of new business needs. I continued to recommend any company that must serve a large set of employees in the workforce and has a need for blending data and analytics for business intelligence or information needs to consider Information Builders.


Tony Cosentino

VP and Research Director

Pentaho recently announced Pentaho 5.0 which represents a major advancement for this supplier of business analytics and data integration software as well as for the open source community to which it contributes and supports. In fact, with 250 new features and enhancements in the 5.0 release, it’s important not to lose the forest for the trees. Some of the highlights are a new user interface that caters to specific roles within the organization, tight integration with emerging databases such as Mongo, and enhanced extensibility. With a funding round of $60 million coming less than a year ago and the growing market momentum around big data and analytics and it appears that Pentaho has doubled down at the right time in its efforts to balance the needs of the enterprise with those of the end user.

The 5.0 products have been completely redesigned for discovery analytics, content creation, accessibility and simplified administration. One key area of change is around roles, or what I  call personas. I recently discussed the different analytic personas that are emerging in today’s data-driven organization, and Pentaho has done a good job of addressing these at each level of the organization. In particular, the system addresses each part of the analytic value chain, from data integration through to analytic discovery and visualization.

I was surprised by the usability of the visual analytics tool, which offers a host of capabilities that enable easy data exploration and visual vr_ngbi_br_importance_of_bi_technology_considerationsdiscovery. Features such as drag-and-drop conditional formatting, including color coding, are simple, intuitive and powerful. Drop-down charting reveals an impressive list of visualizations that can be changed with a single click once. Users will need to understand the chart types by name, however, since no thumbnail visuals are revealed upon scrolling over and there is no chart recommendation engine. But overall, the release’s ease-of-use developments are a major improvement in an already usable system that our firm rated Hot in the 2012 Value Index on Business Intelligence, putting Pentaho on par with other best-in-class tools. According to our benchmark study of next-generation business intelligence systems, usability is becoming more important in business intelligence and is the key buying criterion 63 percent of the time.

Advances from an enterprise perspective include features that will help IT manage the large volumes of data being introduced into the environment through its support of big data sources and streamlining the automation of data integration. Capabilities such as job restart, rollback and load balancing are all included. For administrators, you can more easily configure and manage the system, including security levels, licensing and servers. In addition, new REST services APIs simplify the embedding of analytics and reporting into SaaS implementations. This last advancement in embedding is important, as I discussed in a recent piece that making analytics available anywhere is extremely important.

No discussion of big data integration and analytics is complete vr_infomgt_barriers_to_information_managementwithout the mention of Pentaho Data Integration (PDI), which I consider the crown jewel of the Pentaho portfolio. The value of PDI is derived from its ability to put big data integration and business analytics in the same workflow. The data integration through a user-friendly graphical paradigm helps a range of IT and analysts blend data from multiple platforms at the semantic layer rather than the user level. This enables centralized agreement around data definitions so companies can govern and secure their information environments. The Pentaho approach addresses the two biggest barriers to information management, as revealed in our benchmark research: data spread across too many systems (67%) and multiple versions of the truth (64%). While other tools on the market facilitate blending at the business-user level, there is an inherent danger in such an approach because each individual can create analysis according to the definition that best suits his or her argument. It is similar to the spreadsheet problem we have now, in which many analysts come together, each with a different understanding of the source data.

vr_bigdata_big_data_technologies_plannedIts depth in data integration is very robust and Pentaho  supports a range of big data which has been expanding rapidly to multiple data sources that are being used today and what our research found is planned to be used like Data Warehouse Appliances (35%), In-memory Database (34%), Specialized DBMS (33%) and Hadoop (32%) as found in our Big Data benchmark. Beyond these big data and RDBMS sources that are supported today, it has also expanded to non-SQL sources. The open source and pluggable nature of the Pentaho architecture allows community-driven evolution beyond traditional JDBC and ODBC drivers and gives an increasingly important leverage point for using its platform. For example, the just announced MongoDB Connector enables deep integration that includes replica sets, tag sets and read and write preferences, as well as first-of-its-kind reporting on the Mongo NoSQL database. MongoDB is a document database, which is a new class of database that allows a more flexible, object-oriented approach for accessing new sources of information. The emergence of MongoDB mirrors that of new, more flexible notation languages such as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). While reporting is still basic, I expect the initial integration with MongoDB to be just a first step for the Pentaho community in optimizing information around this big data store. Additionally, Pentaho announced new integration with Splunk, Amazon Redshift and Cloudera Impala, as well as certifications including MongoDB, Cassandra, Cloudera, Intel, Hortonworks and MapR.

Currently the analytics and BI market is bifurcated, with the so-called stack vendors occupying entrenched positions in many organizations and visual discovery selling to business users through a viral bottom-up strategy. Both sides are moving to the middle in their development efforts and addressing the lack of data integration that is integrated in the Pentaho approach. The challenge for the traditional enterprise BI vendors is to build flexible, user-friendly visual platforms, while for the newcomers it’s applying structure and governance to their visually oriented information environment. Arguably, Pentaho is building its platform from the middle out. The company has done a good job of balancing usability aspects with the governance and security models needed for a holistic approach that both IT and end users can support. Organizations that are looking for a unified data integration and business analytics approach for business and IT, including advanced analytics and embedded approaches to information-driven applications, should consider Pentaho.


Tony Cosentino

VP and Research Director

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