With organizations keeping more data for sophisticated analysis the number of business intelligence platforms keeps expanding.

One of the lesser known ones is Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Vertica massively parallel data warehouse platform for analyzing structured data on Linux clusters. HP bought Veritca in 2011.

Now it has announced  Vertica 7.0 Enterprise Edition with a number of new capabilities including improvements to the management console and the addition of a Java software development kit.

But it also announced a new product called Vertica Flex Zone for exploring semi-structured and unstructured data before importing it into Vertica platform.

“We think it’s going to go well with people who already use Hadoop and want to accelerate the exploration angle,” said Luis Maldonado, director of product management, HP Vertica. Other will be satisfied with using Flex Zone by itself, he said.

Flex Zone doesn’t need schemas to be defined before structured or unstructured data is loaded for exploration. Its connectors support JSON and CSVs (comma separated values) and other file stores for analytics.

As a result mixed data like application logs and customer information from Web sites can be accessed in several ways. SQL can be run against the data.

“That we believe is going to be a game changing approach for how you do visualization,” Maldonado said.

Once interesting data has been found, he added, it can be exported in one-step into columnar form for real-time analytics.

Flex Zone “is a great on ramp or discovery tool  and a very nice way of making the whole data life cycle — from early storage to early exploration to operational — much smoother,” he said.

Flex Zone is the first of several new Vertica products coming, Maldonado said.

As for Vertica 7.0 (which carried the code name Crane) — a columnar analytics database –its connectors to Hadoop have been broadened with integration with HCatalog, Hadoop’s table and storage management layer.

That joins integration with MapReduce and HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System).

As a result, Maldonado said, there are four ways Vertica 7 connects to Hadoop — either integrated tightly or a more federated way.

Vertica 7 now also has a Java SDK — joining developer kits for the R statistical language and C++ — which allows developers to link to more data analysis applications.

Finally, the management console has improved diagnostics, tuning and performance capabilities.

Vertica 7.0 and Flex Zone will be released next month.

HP [NYSE: HPC] doesn’t give pricing details, but Maldonado said Vertica 7 is priced the amount of customer data is managed, starting with a minimum 1 TB. There’s a free Community Edition for those who with less than 1TB, or who just want to get used to the product.

Vertica Flex Zone, which is sold separately, will be “closer to Hadoop pricing,” he said.

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