Big data vendors look to simplify tools and processes for average enterprise user

The trick to a successful big data initiative is to start small and scale, as vendors release tools to help simplify the process for enterprises for various popular frameworks, including Hadoop.

Platfora, Inc. recently announced Big Data Discovery 5.0, a Hadoop- and Spark-native analytics platform, which now includes features to reduce data preparation time for analysis, something the company cites as a the “No. 1 productivity killer” for data discovery, including self-service data preparation to reduce the time it takes a business to prepare data sets for analysis.

Platfora’s recently announced Big Data Discovery 5.0 also offers Microsoft Excel support so that anyone in the organization can access data from any department, so users who need their results in Excel format can export any analysis on demand. Essentially, Platforma wants average users to be able to become “citizen data scientists.”

Dell Inc., meanwhile, is also looking to make Hadoop simpler for enterprises by co-designing an offering with Cloudera and Syncsort that streamlines the planning, design, construction and deployment process of transforming data into a ready state for analysis, then loading it for business reporting or for querying.

Armando Acosta, Dell’s Hadoop product and planning manager, said many enterprises adopt big data and analytics technologies such as Hadoop to gain operational efficiency, but implementing it can create new challenges in the organization as expertise can be hard to find. Enterprises often end up paying for outside consultants to do big data initiatives or invest a great deal in time and money for training.

Dell’s new reference architecture provides an intuitive way for any users to extract, transform or load (ETL) data, he said. The reference architecture integrates Syncsort’s DMX-h technology to enable use of more intuitive tools to develop and deploy Hadoop ETL jobs without having to learn new code.

Acosta said many enterprises don’t quite know where to get started with big data, including Hadoop, and customers are coming to Dell with the realization that they don’t have the expertise required, including skill sets around the ecosystem tools.

“We see them as being stalled out,” he said. “They don’t know what to do. Our goal is to help them get started.”

Dell’s advice to customers is not to simply decide they want to use Hadoop, but to identify a specific pain point or business problem they would like to solve as a way to get started.

Utsav Arora, senior analyst for enterprise applications at IDC Canada, said the big data landscape is complex and there are lot of technologies encompassing everything from business intelligence to data visualization tools, including Hadoop. He said vendors are looking to make applications appealing to different lines of businesses within an organization. Essentially, it’s being consumerized so it can be used by those in non-technical areas such as finance and HR with little training.

But at the back-end, enterprises are still finding big data initiatives difficult, said Arora, and there many vendors and many offerings to sort through. What differentiates vendors how intuitive their applications are and their customer support. “It gives them a competitive advantage.”

They are also helping to address a skills gap, he said, and there is a huge market for data scientists – people with business acumen with technology skills who analyze data for business executives. Ultimately, the vendors that are doing well with big data tools are those that make it easy to onboard users and act as a technology partner and consultant, not just a company selling software.

Although there is some logic to starting small and tackling a problem as way to build small successes in big data, but Arora said while many organizations are undertaking initiatives within different siloes to solve a business problems, many enterprises lack a company-wide strategy.


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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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