By Tasso Argyros in Analytic platform, Analytics on February 2, 2011

In my previous post, I spoke about how strongly I feel that this is the year that the analytic platform will become its own distinct and unique category.  As the market as a whole realizes the value of integrated data and process management, in-database applications and in-database analytics, the “analytic platform”, or “analytic computing system”, or “data analytics server” (pick your name) will gain even more momentum, reaching critical mass this year.

In this process, you will see significant movement from vendors, first in their marketing collateral (as it is always the case for followers in a technology space) and then scrambling to cover their product gaps in the 5 categories that define a true analytic platform that I mentioned in Part I of 2011: - The Year of the Analytics Platform.

What took Aster Data 6+ years to build is impossible to be done overnight, or over a few releases (side note: if you are interested in software product development and haven’t read the Mythical Man-Month, now is a good time – it’s an all-time classic and explains this point very clearly), and especially if the fundamental architecture is not there from day one.

But the momentum for the analytic platform category is there and, at this point, is irreversible. Part of this powerful trend is derived from the central place that analytics is taking in the enterprise and government. Analytics today is not a luxury, but a necessity for competitiveness. Every industry today is thinking how to employ analytics to better understand its customers, cut costs, and increase revenues. For example, companies in the financial services sector, a fiercely competitive space, want to use the wealth of data they have to become more relevant to their customers, increase customer satisfaction and retention rates. Governments’ use of data and analytics is one of few last resorts against terrorism and cyber threats. In retail, the advent of Internet, social networks, and globalization has increased competition and reduced margins. Using analytics to understand cross-channel behavior and preferences of consumers improves the returns of marketing campaigns and optimizes product pricing and placement, and can make the difference between red and black ink at the bottom of the balance sheet.

I believe I’m not alone in thinking the analytic platform revolution is here to stay. Probably the strongest statement about this came October 2010 when Merv Adrian and Colin White released their research report through the BEyeNETWORK, “Analytic Platforms: Beyond the Traditional Data Warehouse” (registration required, but you’ll only be contacted by Aster Data vs the other 8 sponsors) :) . They did what no one vendor could do, which is build consensus and a broad view of the market forces at work which unequivocally put analytic platforms on the map as a distinct category with defined edges. The abstract says it all:

“The once staid and settled database market has been disrupted by an upwelling of new entrants targeting use cases that have nothing to do with transaction processing. Focused on making more sophisticated, real-time business analysis available to more simultaneous users on larger, richer sets of data, these analytic database management system (ADBMS) players have sought to upend the notion that one database is sufficient for all storage and usage of corporate information. They have evangelized and successfully introduced the analytic platform and proven its value.”

If you read nothing else on the topic, read this report. Colin and Merv (who has since gone on to work for Gartner) did fantastic primary research on the core capabilities lacking in traditional data warehouse systems, the business needs analytic platforms meet, and much, much more – all backed with research and statistics.

Many others are thinking along the same lines, as pointed out in a recent Information Management Newsletter:

“With enterprises becoming more aggressive in reducing their go-to-market time, alternate solutions to relational database management system products and solutions are emerging that focus on performance, efficient data storage and in-database analytical capabilities. It typically takes a fairly long time to build analytics out of transactional data and convert those insights into any tangible marketing action in any organization. The primary reason for this delay is that analytics is traditionally kept separate from the database layer. This can result in data replication, and with big data, agility does get compromised to an extent. The reason analytics is typically externalized (from the DB layer) is possibly because of the inadequacy and non-procedural nature of SQL, the language that has evolved as a standard to manipulate structured data. SQL in its native form is not meant for analytics but is intended for data storage, retrieval and creation of simple summaries.”

While this article does not talk about analytic platforms as a category, it talks about the technical reasons why critical new capabilities such as advanced in-database analytic techniques which support both declarative-based SQL as well as procedural-based languages to process data without replication outside the system, are necessary.

Curt Monash wrote a post on January 24 saying:

“I’m going to refer to an analytic RDBMS that has been extended by advanced-analytics functionality as an analytic computing system, rather than as some kind of “platform,” although I suspect the latter term is more likely to wind up winning…

While some haven’t fully adopted the idea of an analytic platform, several are already recognizing Aster Data’s potential as a leader of the category. For instance, on January 21, CIO pointed to Aster Data as one of twenty companies to watch in 2011:

“Using a combination of embedded analytics and a high performance, large scale data management platform, Aster Data supports complex and data intensive applications such as those for web analytics, customer behaviour analytics and fraud detection. With organisations looking to find new ways to use and analyse the vast amount of data they have been collecting but not exploiting in 2011, Aster Data and its analytic database platform is well positioned to make the most of this opportunity.”

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about this. Leave a comment below to share your own insights…

dolly p on February 24th, 2011 at 8:46 am #

Great piece of Knowledge, you hit this right on the nail, with the amount of data created and the tracking schemes. With the struggling economy there is no reason why there should not be analytics.

A Kotz on February 24th, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

Nice article. So is there a concept of loading data into this platform or the platform works of a regular star schema in a traditional ROLAP architecture? I am still not clear on how this product differentiates from Teradata or Hyperion Essbase.

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