Crashing the BI party

BI startup Platfora leaps out of beta, with Hadoop partners in tow

Chris Mayer

They might be late to the dance, but Platfora’s Hadoop-preaching BI solution looks to be worth the wait.

The emergence of business intelligence startups in recent months hasn’t gone under the radar. The likes of Precog and ClearStory jumped early with their solutions designed to bridge the gap to big data. Now another has exited its lengthy beta period.

Although late to the party, Platfora is a comparative veteran. Founded in early 2011, the team chose to bide their time, developing for two years before yesterday’s GA launch.

Platfora’s take on analytics is to use Hadoop as a batch engine, whilst Platfora provides the analytical insight. Platfora then extracts insight from raw data rather than relying upon established warehousing projects such as Hive. Results are then displayed using an interactive web-based interface.

The company’s hesitancy to release early might seem counter-intuitive in the face of the industry’s pervasive MVP culture. However, their gestation period has allowed them to monitor the progression of Hadoop over that time, from a “poor man’s data warehouse” to “near infinite data reservoir” according to CEO Ben Werther.

Platfora’s extended development phase has also provided time to broker deals with four big Hadoop vendors, Cloudera, MapR, EMC/Greenplum and Hortonworks, which could prove crucial in attracting potential clients.

This is despite three of the four expressing a desire to push their distributions further, with new analytic-focused projects in Cloudera Impala, MapR’s Apache Drill and the Stinger Initiative at Hortonworks.

Platfora’s VP of Marketing, Peter Schlampp, said the company has a great symbiotic relationship” with all three companies. “They provide the underlying storage and raw processing power for big data, and we provide the ‘intelligence layer’ on top,” he said in a company blogpost.

“Our customers want to know that they will be able to take advantage of the rapid advancements in Hadoop, and we ensure that. Going forward, Platfora will continue to invest in supporting the latest technology in the Hadoop ecosystem, including the emerging category of faster SQL-style interfaces to Hadoop.”

Platfora’s intentions to bring business intelligence packaged direct to those using Hadoop in production could be the differentiator it needs to make up on lost time. Products such as Splunk already off Hadoop connectors, but Platfora’s decision to place Hadoop at the centre of their strategy from the start might give them the edge.

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