Archive for the ‘Analytics’ Category

17
Oct
   

“Big data” has always been a favorite subject of discussion among the Aster Data team. We’ve been talking about big data at least since 2009, long before the term became burning-hot. The big data hype has confused many organization (and vendors) in the market about the best technology or method to solve their analytical business problems.

However, our vision hasn’t changed: from the time we founded the company in 2005 to today where we are part of the Teradata family. Teradata Aster continues to lead the market with technology innovations and reference architectures which provide clear guidance and deliver significant business value to our customers

Today, we are pushing the limits of analytical technology once more, by launching the Teradata Aster Big Analytics Appliance. The Big Analytics Appliance is a unique machine that can help enterprises see their business in high-definition. By harnessing all existing and new data types in the enterprise, we enable organizations to leverage our powerful SQL-MapReduce framework and business-ready analytics & apps which solve specifics business problems in marketing attribution, fraud detection, graph analysis, pattern analysis, and much more. It unleashes the creativity of bright analysts to go discover new insights to help their organizations grow revenue and create sustainable competitive advantage.

So what is the Big Analytics Appliance? It’s five things in one box:

  1. Aster + Apache Hadoop (100% open source via the Hortonworks HDP distribution), fully integrated in one box
  2. ANSI-standard SQL and next-generation MapReduce, fully integrated
  3. More than 50 ready-to-use MapReduce  apps, to deliver immediate business value
  4. Full ecosystem connectivity for both Aster and Hadoop; with BI, ETL and other existing IT systems
  5. The latest-generation, most efficient hardware platform, specifically optimized for Aster, Hadoop, and Big Analytics

Loyal to our Stanford roots, the appliance comes in Cardinal-red color!

Teradata Aster Big Analytics Appliance

The Big Analytics Appliance packs a long list of essential and unique technologies, including:

  • SQL-MapReduce®,  industry’s only true SQL/MapReduce integration
  • SQL-H™, industry’s only ANSI-standard SQL and Hadoop integration
  • Teradata Viewpoint, the most advanced database monitoring platform now extended to Aster and Hadoop
  • Teradata TVI a very sophisticated hardware support and failure prevention software, now ported to Hadoop as well as to Aster
  • Infiniband network interconnect - makes ultra-high-performance connectivity between Aster and Hadoop, as well as scalability, a non-issue
  • Small factor disk drives and dense enclosures - make this appliance one of the most dense and space-efficient big data platforms in the market

And, of course, everything in this appliance is packaged, integrated, pre-tested and supported by Teradata - the most trusted brand in data management and analytics.

I also want to take a moment to talk about our Unified Data Architecture vision for the enterprise. When most vendors out there talk about big data at a very high level without explaining where it fits and how it relates with traditional technologies like data warehousing, we decided to do the hard work of figuring out how different technologies complement each other and for what purpose. The result of that was the diagram below that showcases how Teradata, Aster & Hadoop can work together in tandem to provide a complete data solution for enterprise environments:

Teradata Unified Data Architecture

We also went one step further and now have a matrix that explains what technology (or technologies) are more appropriate for what use case - given a workload/use case and a specific type of data. The result of that exercise is below:

Processing as a Function of Schema Requirements by Data Type

When To Use Which Technology? The best approach by workload and data type

If you want to know more about our Unified Data Architecture vision, read the whitepaper we co-authored with Hortonworks, or feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss with you this concept and how it’d fit into your environment.

Through tightly integrating Aster and Hadoop, the new Big Analytics Appliance addresses a large part of the Unified Data Architecture; and via the Teradata-Aster and Teradata-Hadoop connectors, Teradata now has all the necessary pieces to help enterprises extract the maximum business value from all their data and execute on their Big Data vision. At Aster, just like at Teradata, we are committed to continuously provide the best innovations to help our customers have the power to make the best decision possible.

P.S. If you want to try out Aster without ordering a full Aster box, we now allow you to download an Aster virtual appliance! Go give it a try: http://www.asterdata.com/AsterExpress



12
Jun
   

Back in 2005, when we first founded Aster Data, our vision was to take some of the latest technology innovations – including MPP shared-nothing architectures; Linux-based commodity hardware; and novel analytical interfaces like Google’s MapReduce – and bring them to mainstream enterprises. This vision translated into a strategy focused not only on big data innovations, but also on delivering technologies that make big data viable for enterprise environments. SQL-MapReduce®, our industry-leading patented technology that combines standard SQL processing with a native MapReduce execution environment, is one example of how we make big data enterprise ready.

Today we have completed another major milestone on providing value to our customers by announcing a major innovation: Aster SQL-H™, a seamless way to execute SQL & SQL-MapReduce on Apache™ Hadoop™ data.

This is a significant step forward from what was state-of-the-art until yesterday. What was missing? A common DBMS-Hadoop connector operating at the physical layer. This means that getting data from Hadoop to a database required a Hadoop expert in the middle to do the data cleansing and the data type translation. If the data was not 100% clean (which is the case in most circumstances) a developer was needed to get it to a consistent, proper form. Besides wasting the valuable time of that expert, this process meant that business analysts couldn’t directly access and analyze data in Hadoop clusters. Other database connectors require duplicating the data into HDFS by using proprietary formats; a cumbersome and expensive approach by any measure.

SQL-H, an industry-first, solves all those problems.

First, we have integrated Aster’s metadata engine with Hadoop’s emerging metadata standard, HCatalog. This means that data stored in Hadoop using Pig, Hive & HBase can be “seen” in an Aster system as if they are just another Aster view. The business implication is that a business analyst using standard SQL or a BI tool can have full and seamless access to Hadoop data through the Aster’s standard ODBC/JDBC connector and Aster’s SQL engine. There is no need to have a human in the middle to translate the data or ensure its consistency; and no need to file tickets or call up experts to get the data the business needs. Everything happens transparently, seamlessly, and instantly. This is an industry first, since today all available Hadoop tools either do not provide standard SQL interfaces that are well optimized, do not provide native BI compatibility, or require manual data translation and movement from Hadoop to a third party system. None of these approaches are viable options for SQL & BI execution on Hadoop data, thus making it hard for enterprises to get value from Hadoop.

Secondly, SQL-H provides a high-performance, type-safe data connector, that can take a SQL or SQL-MapReduce query that involves Hadoop data, automatically select the minimum subset of data in Hadoop that is required for execution of the query, and run the query on the Aster system. The performance of running SQL and SQL-MapReduce analytics in Aster is significantly higher than Hadoop because (a) Aster can optimize data partitioning and distribution, thus reducing network transfers and overhead; (b) Aster’s engine can keep statistics about the data and use that to optimize execution of both SQL & MapReduce; (c) Aster’s SQL queries are cost-based-optimized which means that it can handle very complex SQL, including SQL produced by BI tools, very efficiently.

In addition, one can take advantage of SQL-H to apply the 50+ pre-build SQL-MapReduce apps that Teradata Aster provides on Hadoop data, thus doing big data analytics that are impossible to do in every other database without having to write a single line of Java MapReduce code! These apps include functions for path & pattern analysis, statistics, graph, text analysis, and more.

Teradata Aster is committed to groundbreaking product innovation as the key strategy in maintaining our #1 position in the big analytics market. SQL-H is another important step that we expect will make Hadoop and big data analytics much more palatable for enterprise environments, allowing business analysts, SQL power-users & BI tool users to analyze Hadoop data without having to learn about Hadoop interfaces and code.

If you want to find out more we’ll be talking about SQL-H at Hadoop Summit, on webcast taking place June 21st, at the upcoming Big Analytics 2012 events in Chicago & New York, and at the annual Teradata Partners event.



13
Apr
By Mayank Bawa in Analytics, Business analytics, Teradata Aster on April 13, 2012
   

We live in interesting times!

In the past 30 years, data was used to record business events and report on business events. Over the last 5 years, data has gotten closer to business. Now data is being used to record business events, report on business events as well as influence business events. We now realize that the more data we record, the more comprehensively data can influence business events.

Hence the excitement of “big data” - it is a business opportunity for each line of business - to influence business events to have favorable outcomes.

The responsibility for technologists is to provide the right platforms and tools to make influencing business easy and simple.

There are TWO relentless forces that are playing out in the big data space to which technology has to respond.

The first force is the diversity of data. As we record more data, we end up having different formats of data to manage. About 20% is relational, but we also have text, emails, PDF, Twitter feeds, Facebook profiles, social graphs, CDRs, Apache logs, JSON formats, …

The second force is the richness of analytics. As we influence more business, we end up having richer analytics to perform. About 20% is SQL, but we also have time series analysis, statistical analysis, geo-spatial analysis, graph analysis, sentiment analysis, entity extraction, …

Note that I am not saying MapReduce doesn’t have a diverse set of analytics to do: MapReduce is a way of programming to do analysis - time series, statistical, geo-spatial - each require different MapReduce programs to be written.

Today, the platforms and tools for big data are very complex. They expect lines of business owners to write programs to manage different forms of big data, to write sophisticated programs to analyze big data, to master the management and administration of big clusters and be self-sustaining in managing data quality. This last point is very important - data values change over time. We have to keep values consistent, otherwise our analysis will be wrong and our influence on business will be negative - garbage in, garbage out rule of computing.

As a result, big data is in danger of entering the DIY (do it yourself) space. A line of business is now expected to support big clusters = big administration = big programs = big friction = low influence.

We have to acknowledge these challenges as technologists. If we let big data solutions be a DIY solution, only pockets of enterprise will embrace big data - the rest of the non-technology savvy business leaders will be left out of the opportunity.

We have to simplify this equation. We need to enable line of business owners to benefit from big data a lot more easily. We have to make it simpler for business leaders to get from big data to big analytics.

Our goal, big data = small clusters = easy administration = big analytics = big influence.

This entails solving the following problems:

[1] Make platform and tools to be easier to use to manage and curate data. Otherwise, garbage in = garbage out, and you will get garbage analytics.

[2] Provide rich analytics functions out of the box. Each line of programming cuts your reachable audience by 50%.

[3] Provide tools to update or delete data. Otherwise, data consistency will drift away from truth as history accumulates.

[4] Provide applications to leverage data and find answers relevant to business. Otherwise the cost of DIY applications is too high to influence business - and won’t be done.

At Teradata Aster, we are continuing to lead the big data revolution. We have led the revolution for the past 5 years, and helped shape the market and technologies. We are convinced that the path to big data success is to connect it with Big Analytics in the coming 5 years.



21
Mar
   

The conversation around “big data” has been evolving beyond a technology discussion to focus on analytics and applications to the business.  As such, we’ve worked with our partners and customers to expand the scope of the Big Data Summit events we initiated back in 2009 and have created Big Analytics 2012 - a new series of roadshow events kicking off in San Francisco on April 19, 2012 .

According to previous attendees and market surveys, the greatest big data application opportunities in businesses are:

- Digital marketing applications such as multi-channel analytics and testing to better understand and engage your customers

- Using data science and analytics to explore and develop new markets or data-driven services

Companies like LinkedIn, Edmodo, eBay,  and others have effectively applied data science and analytics to take advantage of the new economics of data. And they are ready to share details of what they have learned along the way.

Big Analytics 2012 is a half-day event, is absolutely free to attend, and will include insight from industry insiders in two different tracks: Digital Marketing Optimization, and Data Science and Analytics. Big Analytics 2012 is a great way to meet and hear from your peers such as: executives who want to learn more about leveraging advanced analytics to a competitive advantage, interactive marketing innovators who want access to “game changing” insights for digital marketing optimization, enterprise architects and business intelligence professionals looking to provide big data infrastructure and data scientists and business analysts who are responsible for developing new data-driven products or business insights.

Come to learn from the panel of experts and stay for an evening networking reception that will put you in touch with big data and analytics professionals from throughout the industry. Big Analytics 2012 will be coming soon to a city near you. Click here to learn more about the event and to register now.

 



19
Mar
By Tasso Argyros in Analytics, Business analytics, Interactive marketing, Teradata Aster on March 19, 2012
   

Tomorrow, I will have the pleasure of presenting “Radical Loyalty - Data Science Applied to Marketing” at the GigaOm Structure:Data event with Marc Parrish, the VP of Membership and Customer Retention Marketing at Barnes & Noble. In contrast with most talks at this event, Marc and I will be focusing on the business opportunities of Big Data and specifically on marketing loyalty programs and how they relate to Big Data analytics.

The concept of a loyalty program is certainly nothing new. Brick and mortar companies have been leveraging customer loyalty in a variety of unique ways for decades. What’s different is the ability of businesses to use new types of data to take their customer loyalty insights and strategies to a completely new level. At tomorrow’s conference, we will explore ways in which modern retailers like Barnes & Noble with a strong digital marketing strategy leverage their customers’ loyalty using Big Data and how to make loyalty programs worthwhile for customers and their needs.

Barnes & Noble has proven an ability to innovate their business model by leveraging data. I look forward to sharing some insight with Marc on retail and other real world applications of Big Data.



15
Mar
By Steve Wooledge in Analytics, MapReduce, Teradata Aster on March 15, 2012
   

Yesterday I presented at the Los Angeles Teradata User Group on the topic of “Data Science: Finding Patterns in Your Data More Quickly & Easily with MapReduce”. One point discussed was the common misnomer that big data is about volume, which is certainly part of the issue organizations are facing. However, the big story in big data is the complexity and additional processing required to make “unstructured” data actionable through analytics. This is where procedural frameworks like MapReduce can help. Here is a great post by Teradata’s own Bill Franks about unstructured data which helps describe the requirements unstructured data demands in the context of analytics.

As Franks notes, “the thought of using unstructured data really shouldn’t intimidate people as much as it often does.” Read more to learn why.

 



21
Feb
By Tasso Argyros in Analytic platform, Analytics, Analytics tech, Database, MapReduce on February 21, 2012
   

It has been about seven years since Aster Data was founded, four years since our industry-first Enteprise SQL-MapReduce implementation (first commercial MapReduce offering) and three years since our first Big Data Summit event (the first “Big Data” event in the industry as far as I know). During this whole time, we have witnessed our technology investments take off together with the Big Data market - just think how many people had never even heard the word MapReduce three years ago, and how many swear by it today!

As someone who was caught in the Big Data wave since 2005, I can tell you that the stage of the market has changed significantly during this time - and with it, the challenges that Enterprise customers face. A few years ago, customers were realizing the challenges that piles of new types of data were bringing - big volumes (terabytes to petabytes) and new, complex types (multi-structured data such as weblogs, text, customer interaction data); but at the same time, the opportunities that the new analytical interfaces, like MapReduce, were enabling. Fast forward to today and most enterprises are trying to put together their Big Data strategies and make sense of what the market has to offer - and as a result there is a lot of market noise and confusion: it is usually not clear what use cases apply to traditional technologies versus new; how to reconcile existing technologies with new investments; and what type of projects will they give them highest ROI versus a long and painful failure.

Teradata and Teradata Aster have a high interest in customers being successful with Big Data challenges and technologies, because we believe that the growth of the market will translate into growth for us. Given Teradata’s history in being the #1 strategic advisor to customers around data management and analytics, we only want to offer the best solutions to our customers. This includes our products -which are recognized by Gartner as leading technologies in Data Warehousing and Big Data analytics- but also our expertise helping customers how to use complementary solutions, like Hadoop, and making sure that the total solution works reliably and succeeds in tackling big business problems.

With this partnership, we are taking one more step towards this direction. So we are announcing three things:

1. Teradata and Hortonworks will work together to jointly solve big challenges for our customers. This is a win/win for customers and the industry.

2. Our intent to do joint R&D to make it easier for customers that use products from Teradata and Hadoop to utilize these products together. This is important because every enterprise will look to combine new technologies with existing investments, and there is plenty of opportunity to do better.

3. A set of reference architectures that combine Teradata and Hadoop products to accelerate the implementation of Big Data Big Data projects. We hope that this will be a starting point that will save enterprises time and money when they embark on Big Data projects.

We believe that all the above three points will translate into eliminating risks and unnecessary trial and error. We have enough collective experience to guide customers to avoid failed projects and traps. And by helping clear up some of the confusion in the big data market, we hope to accelerate its growth and the benefit to Enterprises that are looking to utilizing their data to become more competitive and efficient.



29
Sep
By Tasso Argyros in Analytic platform, Analytics, MapReduce on September 29, 2011
   

One of the great things about starting your own company (if you’re lucky and your company does well) is that you take part in the evolution of a whole new market, from its nascent days to its heyday. This was the case with Aster and the “Big Data” market. Back when we started Aster, in 2005, MPP systems that could store and analyze data using off-the-self servers was still a pretty new concept. I also recall in 2008, when we first came out with our native in-database MapReduce support — and our SQL-MapReduce® technology — we had to explain to most people what MapReduce even was. In 2009, we came out with the first Big Data event series — “Big Data Summit” — because we knew we were doing something new and wanted a term to describe it. “Big Data” caught on more than we had imagined back then, and the rest is history. Product innovation was at the core of Aster’s existence, and we kept pushing ourselves and our product to become the best platform for enterprise-class data analytics using both SQL and MapReduce as first class citizens on one analytic platform.

Today there is a lot of innovation in the big data market. However, we see a “chasm” between the SQL technologies—which are very enterprise-friendly—and the new wave of open source big data or “NoSQL” software which is used extensively by engineering organizations. In the middle is a very large number of enterprises trying to understand how they can use these new technologies to push their analytical capabilities beyond purely SQL, while at the same time utilizing their existing investments in technologies and people. This is the problem that Aster solves.

With last week’s announcement, the launch of our Teradata Aster MapReduce solutions which include Aster Database 5.0 software (formerly Aster nCluster) and our new Aster MapReduce Appliance, we bring to market the best answer for the organizations that are “caught in the middle.” Unlike SQL-only systems focused primarily on analyzing structured data, our database and appliance provide support for native MapReduce which enables a new generation of analytics, such as digital marketing optimization, social graph analysis, fraud detection based on customer behavior, etc. Our newly extended libraries of pre-built MapReduce analytical functions allows such applications to be developed with significantly less time and cost versus other MapReduce technologies. And, unlike other MapReduce-based systems, we offer full SQL support, integration with all major BI and ETL vendors and a data adaptor to EDW systems that allows enterprises to utilize existing tools and skills to bring big data analytics to their businesses. Finally, with our new appliance, we leverage Teradata’s strength and engineering to provide a proven and performance-optimized system for businesses to start analyzing untapped diverse data while cutting down on time, cost and frustration!

As we move forward, Aster is committed to being the leader in SQL and MapReduce analytics for multi-structured data. Having spent 6 years in this market, we believe that it’s not just the coolest technologies that will win, but the ones that make it easier for business analysts and data scientists within organizations to solve their business problems and innovate with analytics. With the launch of our new Teradata Aster solutions — including the revamped SQL-MapReduce interfaces and the new Aster MapReduce appliance—we are pushing the state of the art towards this direction (or as my marketing team likes to say – “bringing the science of data to the art of business”). :)



28
Jul
By Mayank Bawa in Analytic platform, Analytics on July 28, 2011
   

I wrote earlier that data is structured in multiple forms. In fact, it is the structure of data that allows applications to handle it “automatically” - as an automaton, i.e., programmatically – rather than relying on humans to handle it “semantically”.

Thus a search engine can search for words, propose completion of partially typed words, do spell checking, and suggest grammar corrections “automatically”.

In the last 30 years, we’ve built specialized systems to handle each data structure differently at scale. We index a large corpus of documents in a dedicated search engine for searches, we arrange lots of words in a publishing framework to compose documents, we store relational data in a RDBMS to do reporting, we store emails in an e-discovery platform to identify emails that satisfy a certain pattern, we build and store cubes in a MOLAP engine to do interactive analysis, and so on.

Each such system is a silo – it imposes a particular structure on big data, and then it leverages that structure to do its tasks efficiently at scale.

The silo approach imposes fragmentation of data assets. It is expensive to maintain these silos. It is inefficient for humans and programs to master these silos – they have to learn the nuances of each silo to become an expert in exploiting it. As a result, we have all kinds of data administrators – a cube expert, a text expert, a spreadsheet expert, and so on.

The state of data fragmentation reminds me of the “dedicated function machines” that pre-dated the “Personal Computer”. We used to have electronic type-writers that would create documents, calculators that would calculate formulae, fax machines that would transmit documents, even tax machines that would calculate taxes. All of these machines were booted to relic-status at a museum by a general-purpose computer – the functions were ported on top of its computing framework and the data was stored in its file system. The unity of all of these functions and its data on the general-purpose computer gave rise to “integration” benefits. It made tasks easier: we can now fill our tax forms in (structured form-based) PDF documents, do tax calculations, and file taxes by transmitting the document - all on one platform. Our productivity has gone up. Indeed, the assimilation of data is leading to net new tasks that were not possible before. We can let programs search for previous year’s filings, read the entries, and populate this year’s forms from previous year’s filing to minimize data-entry errors.

We have the same opportunity in front of us now in the field of big data. For too long, have we relegated functions that work on big data to isolated “dedicated function machines.” These dedicated function machines are bad because they are not “open.” Data in a search engine can only be “searched” - it cannot be analyzed for sentiments or plagiarism or edited to insert or remove references. The data is the same, but each of these tasks requires a “dedicated function machine.”

We have the option to build a general purpose machine for big data – a multi-structured big data platform – that allows multiple structures of data to co-exist on a single platform that is flexible enough to perform multiple functions on data.

Such a platform, for example, would allow us to analyze structured payments data to identify our valuable customers, interpret sentiments of calls they made to us, analyze the most common problem across negative sentiment interactions, and predict the loss in revenue that can be prevented by solving that problem and the cost of acquiring net new customers to overcome the losses. Without a multi-structure big data platform, the above workflow is a 12-18 month cycle performed by a cross-functional team of “dedicated function experts” (CFO group, Customer Support group, Products group, Marketing group) – a bureaucratic mess of project management that produces results too expensively, too infrequently and too inaccurately, making simplifying assumptions at each step as they cannot agree on even basic metrics.

An open “Multi-Structured Big Data Platform” would be hugely enabling and open up vast efficiency and functionality that we can’t imagine today.



25
May
By jonbock in Analytics, MapReduce on May 25, 2011
   

In case you missed the news, Aster Data just took another step to make SQL-MapReduce the best programming framework for big data analytics. The Aster Data SQL-MapReduce® Developer Portal is the first collaborative online developer community for SQL-MapReduce analytics, our framework for processing non-relational data and ultra-fast analytics. It builds on other efforts to enable MapReduce analytics including: Developer Center, a resource center for MapReduce and SQL-MapReduce developers; Aster Data Developer Express, the first integrated development environment for SQL-MapReduce; and Aster Data Analytic Foundation, a suite of ready-to-use SQL-MapReduce functions.

The Developer Portal gives our customers and partners a community for collaborating with peers to leverage the flexibility and power of SQL-MapReduce for analytics that were previously impossible or impractical. Data scientists, quantitative analysts, and developers from customers, partners, and Aster Data are using the portal to highlight insights and best practices, share analytic functions, and leverage the experience and knowledge of the community to easily harness the power of SQL-MapReduce for big data analytics.

The portal enables collaboration that is key in making it easy for our customers to become SQL-MapReduce experts so they can solve core business challenges. As Navdeep Alam, director of data architecture at Mzinga, said, the portal “will allow us the ability to share and leverage insights with others in using big data analytics to attain a deeper understanding of customers’ behavior and create competitive advantage for our business.”

We’re seeing strong interest in the Developer Portal from our current customers. Early activity and content on the portal includes discussions about using the GSL libraries, programming in .NET, and writing sessionization and sampling functions. We plan to expand on this with tutorials for additional functions over the next few months.

If you aren’t already a customer, we encourage you to get started at the Aster Data Developer Center, where you can get your hands on SQL-MapReduce by downloading Aster Data Developer Express for free and find links to other resources like www.mapreduce.org.  If you are an Aster Data customer, we encourage you to also register for access to the new SQL-MapReduce Developer Portal for additional content and learning.

We’re always interested in your feedback as to how we can better help developers learn about and use MapReduce and Aster Data’s SQL-MapReduce.  If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them below in the comments.