By Steve Wooledge in Blogroll on June 14, 2010

As the market around big data heats up, it’s great to see the ecosystem for Hadoop, MapReduce, and massively parallel databases expanding. This includes events for education and networking around big data.

As such, Aster Data is co-sponsoring our first official “unconference” the night before the 2010 Hadoop Summit. It’s called BigDataCamp and will be June 28th at the TechMart from 5:00-9:30PM (adjacent to the Hyatt where Hadoop Summit is taking place). Similar to our ScaleCamp event last year where we heard from companies like LinkedIn and ShareThis and industry practitioners like Chris Wensel (author of Cascading), there will be a lineup of great talks, including hands-on workshops led by Amazon Web Services, Karmasphere, and more. In addition, we’re lucky to have Dave Nielsen as the moderator/organizer of the event as he’s chaired similar unconferences such as CloudCamp, and is an expert at facilitating content and discussions to best fit attendee interest.

It’s very fitting to have the more open/dynamic agenda style of an unconference given the audience will be more of the “analytic scientists” - a title which I’ve seen LinkedIn use when describing the rise in job roles dedicated to tackling big data in companies to tease out insights and develop data-driven products and applications. The analytic scientist-customers I speak with who use Aster Data together with Hadoop challenge the norms and move quickly - not unlike an unconference agenda. I expect a night of free thinking (and free drinks/food), big ideas, and a practical look at emerging technologies and techniques to tackle big data. Best of all, the networking portion is a great chance to meet folks to hear what they’re up to and exchange ideas.

Check out the agenda at www.bigdatacamp.org and note that seats are limited and we expect to sell out, so please REGISTER NOW. Hope to see you there!

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By Steve Wooledge in Analytics, Blogroll on May 13, 2010

We just closed out the fourth Big Data Summit in 8 months this week. This time we brought big data and advanced analytics to downtown DC and it proved to have some fantastic sessions. Here’s a quick recap. I’ll link presenter’s slides to this post as they come available:

- Curt Monash was our keynote speaker, kicking off the event and providing some great context. Titled “Implications of New Analytic Technology?,” Curt was able to raise a number of issues to consider as technology advances to enable big data analytics, not the least of which is legislative implications which need to be considered. (Check out Curt’s wrap on his talk at his DBMS2 blog.)

- Will Duckworth from comScore detailed the technical requirements around their highly successful MediaMetrix 360 product which has resulted in a flood of 10 billion rows per day of new data entering the Aster Data system. (In addition to the slides below, Will discusses more in this video.)

Utilizing Aster nCluster to support processing in excess of 100 Billion rows per month

- Matt Ipri from MicroStrategy discussed how customers benefit from using MicroStrategy with systems like Aster Data because of their “database aware”? BI platform. Their integration with Aster Data around SQL-MapReduce is also likely one of the reasons we won their Technology Innovation award at MicroStrategy World earlier this year.

BI at Scale

- Michelle Wilkie from SAS described the advanced in-database analytics initiative they have to push more of the data mining process into DBMSs like Aster Data. SAS is using Aster Data’s SQL-MapReduce to accomplish this with Aster Data nCluster, providing statistical integrity of results.

SAS In-Database

- Tasso Argyros, CTO and CO-Founder of Aster Data, described the requirements for managing and analyzing big data, advanced analytic use-cases, and how Aster Data nCluster uniquely providers customers with a next-generation data analytics platform to do more.

- Jim Kobielus from Forrester Research joined the other speakers during a lunch panel, which proved to be exciting given the amount of innovation coming from distributed computing methods like MapReduce which are finding their way into commercial applications. Of note was a question from the audience around the right type of education background to look for when hiring analytics professionals. The answered ranged from “philosophy”? to “engineering”? and everything in between! Apparently, you need passion for analytics more than anything else. None of that was lacking in our panel.

Stay tuned for more summits on big data and advanced analytics from Aster Data. Chicago is up next and we’ll be firming up dates shortly. And if you can’t make it to the next event, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AsterData. There was some great conversation around the event there.

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By jgoldman in Analytics on May 4, 2010

It has been a few weeks since we announced the Aster Analytics Center, so I think this is a good time to shed a little more light on what we are doing. Our goal is to make analytical work easier and faster to do on many types of data sets. We have already worked closely with many customers to architect solutions that solve their analytics challenges: fraud detection; complex security analysis to detect communication anomalies; graph analysis for social networks.

As part of the center, we are building an analytics infrastructure to make advanced analytics readily accessible to anyone using Aster Data. This includes making use of our SQL-MapReduce interface to do analysis that can’t easily be expressed in SQL, and often leads to huge performance gains. In addition, we are releasing a suite of functions built on Aster’s API for MapReduce that allows for easy invocation from within SQL. The suite includes, for example, novel tools to do sequence analysis, which is very useful for anyone trying to do pattern analysis. It’s important to note that many of our customers are already writing their own applications using this API and it’s really straightforward to get started. Incidentally, development for our Java API has just become very easy with our new SDK that uses a plug-in for Eclipse. Also, we are actively developing partnerships with analytic functions and solution providers.

I’d like to briefly provide a brief background of why I’m so excited about what Aster is enabling and how this is indicative of a significant shift in how companies use and analyze their data. I first encountered Aster Data when I was at LinkedIn building analytically driven products with the large data sets that LinkedIn has amassed. Our team faced severe limitations with our standard warehouse, but with the introduction of the MPP Aster system we were suddenly able to analyze data much faster. Analyses that previously took 10 hours to run could suddenly run in 5 minutes. Our ability to think of an idea and get answers was no longer limited by the constraints of the equipment we owned but was instead bottlenecked by how quickly we could think. With a 10 hour wait-time you frequently forgot what you were working on or the stakeholder had moved on without doing a proper analysis. If you made a mistake or wanted to tweak your query you had to wait another 10 hours. With the Aster-enable approach to analytic development, however, a whole new way of thinking emerged and we started to perform analyses we didn’t even think was previously possible. Having the ability to quickly iterate on an idea is invaluable when solving problems - the answers we got back helped guide business decisions and enabled better products on LinkedIn.

As a customer I worked directly with the Aster team on a number of problems and was amazed by their depth of knowledge of the challenges analytics practitioners face and their ability to innovate. Since joining the team, I’ve been pleased by Aster’s strong commitment to make analytics accessible to all. A scalable system that can do more with data will unleash a whole new set of capabilities for enterprises. I’m very excited that the field team has grown and we have attracted top-talent like ex-particle physicist Puneet Batra and data mining experts like Qi Su. Ajay Mysore, another member of the team, conducted master’s research on clustering algorithms. Our team lives and breathes data and is always ready for new challenges. Right now the field of analytics is undergoing a renaissance and it’s exciting to be working with a leader in the field of big data and advanced analytics.

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Dell and Aster Data: A Powerful Combination for Large-Scale Customers
By dkloc in Cloud Computing on April 26, 2010

If you read this blog, you’ve probably seen the news about the partnership between Aster Data and Dell on their new PowerEdge C-Series servers (link to their page). Together we have enabled some really successful customers such as MySpace and Mint.com and proven that Dell hardware with Aster Data software easily scales to support large-scale data warehousing and advanced analytics.

Aster Data CEO Mayank Bawa explains this combination in more detail, as well as Aster Data’s history and the distinct advantages offered by the partnership with Dell, including Online Precision Scaling™, out-of-the-box advanced in-database analytics, and always-on availability.

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By Tasso Argyros in Analytics, Blogroll on April 16, 2010

This Monday we announced a new web destination for MapReduce, MapReduce.org. At a high level, this site is the first consolidated source of information & education around MapReduce, the groundbreaking programming model which is rapidly revolutionizing the way people deal with big data. Our vision is to make this site the one-stop-shop for anyone looking to learn how MapReduce can help analyze large amounts of data.

There were a couple reasons why we thought the world of big data analytics needed a resource like this. First, MapReduce is a relatively new technology and we are constantly getting questions from people in the industry wanting to learn more about it, from basic facts to using MapReduce for complex data analytics at Petabyte scale. By placing our knowledge and references in one public destination, we hope to build a valuable self-serve resource to educate many more people than what we could ever reach directly. In addition, we were motivated by the fact that most MapReduce resources out there focus more on specific implementations of MapReduce, which fragments the available knowledge and reduces its value. In this new effort we hope to create a multi-vendor & multi-tool resource which will benefit anyone interested in MapReduce.

We’re already working with analysts such as Curt Monash, Merv Adrian, Colin White and James Kobielus to syndicate their MapReduce-related posts. Going forward, we expect even more analysts, bloggers, practitioners, vendors, and academics to contribute. If traffic grows like we expect, we may eventually add a community forum to aid in interaction and sharing of knowledge and best practices.

I hope you enjoy surfing this new site! Free to email me for any suggestions as we work to make MapReduce.org more useful for you.

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By Steve Wooledge in Uncategorized on April 13, 2010

It looks like Aster Data isn’t the only company hoping to demystify advanced analytics as a growing number of organizations try to decide whether to dip their toe in the water or dive in completely. There was an interesting article from Doug Henschen of Intelligent Enterprise last week on their launch of the “Advantage in Analytics” TechCenter.

The main impediments to growth for the analytics market have been “lack of awareness, skills and a demand for fact-based decision-making within organizations,” Doug writes. This preceded our announcement of the Aster Analytics Center and MapReduce.org earlier this week to support those very goals.

The Aster Analytics Center provides best practices, and ready-to-use analytics solutions to jump-start development of advanced in-database analytics. Further, www.mapreduce.org provides valuable information to companies interested in understanding MapReduce-based analytics and learning how other companies have built rich data-driven applications using MapReduce and SQL-MapReduce. We expect these resources, along with Intelligent Enterprise’s “Advantage in Analytics” TechCenter, to be integral in increasing awareness and skills. And as more organizations learn the benefits, demand will become nearly universal. Hats off to Intelligent Enterprise for supporting these goals.

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By rpai in Analytics, Blogroll, Frontline data warehouse, TCO on February 22, 2010

Today Aster took a significant step and made it easier for developers building fraud detection, financial risk management, telco network optimization, customer targeting and personalization, and other advanced, interactive analytic applications.

Along with the release of Aster Data nCluster 4.5, we added a new Solution Partner level for systems integrators and developers.

Why is this relevant?

Recession or no-recession, IT executives are constantly challenged. They are asked to execute strategies based on better analytics and information to improve effectiveness of business processes (customer loyalty, inventory management, revenue optimization, ..), while staying on top of technology-based disruptions and managing (shrinking or flat) IT budgets.

IT organizations have taken on the challenge by building analytics-based offerings  leveraging existing data management skills and increasingly taking advantage of MapReduce, a disruptive technology introduced by Google and now being rapidly adopted by mainstream enterprise IT shops in Finance, Telco, LifeSciences, Govt. and other verticals.

As MapReduce and big data analytics goes mainstream, our customers and ecosystem partners have asked us to make it easier for their teams to leverage MapReduce across enterprise application lifecycles, while harvesting existing IT skills in SQL, Java and other programming languages.  The Aster development team that brought us the SQL/MapReduce innovation, has now delivered the market’s first integrated visual development environment for developing, deploying and managing MapReduce and SQL-based analytic applications.

Enterprise MapReduce developers and system integrators can now leverage the integrated Aster platform and deliver compelling business results in record time (read how ComScore delivers 360 degree view of digital world to enterprise customers, Full Tilt Poker gains the upper hand tackling online fraud using Aster).

We are also teaming up with leaders in our ecosystem like MicroStrategy to deliver an end-to-end analytics solution to our customers that includes SQL/MapReduce enabled reporting and rich visualization. Aster is proud to be driving innovation in the Analytics and BI market and was recently honored at  MicroStrategy’s annual customer conference.

I am delighted with the rapid adoption of Aster Data’s platform by our partners and the strong continued interest from enterprise developers and system integrators in building big data applications using Aster. New partners are endorsing our vision and technical innovation as the future of advanced analytics for large data volumes.

Sign up today to be an Aster solution partner and join the revolution to deliver compelling information and analytics-driven solutions.

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By Steve Wooledge in Blogroll on February 16, 2010

We’re a couple of days away from our second Big Data Summit event in as many calendar quarters, and it’s shaping up to be jam-packed with good presentations and conversation around innovations in data management and advanced analytics.  For people not aware, we’re conducting Big Data Summits regionally in North America and Europe with an eye on helping educate organizations who are looking for ways to tackle the enormous amount of data growing in (and outside) of their four walls. More importantly, we’re helping people answer the question, “what do I do with all this data?”.  If you can’t make it to the Bay Area on Feb 18th, look for one coming soon to a venue near you.  Here are some previews of what’s coming on Thursday:

1) Intuit (formerly mint.com) will be talking about how they anonymize consumer data and provide financial benchmarks and insights to individuals.  e.g., Do you spend more on dinner than the average Joe or Jane in California?

2)  Mobclix, a mobile advertising network, will discuss how they enable application developers for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc. to make more money by providing targeting advertising based on better analytics. (And how they’ve deployed it on Amazon Web Services to scale up & down on demand)

3) Merv Adrian from IT Market Strategy will keynote to talk about trends in data management and the questions you need to ask yourself as you consider ways to tackle big data problems. He’s also moderating a panel that I’m hearing will have some cameo appearances from other industry analysts with big brains.

4) Dell is our platinum sponsor and they’ll be talking about some new hardware they’re rolling out for big data computing and putting on display at the show.

5) Our CEO and co-founder will be talking about our approach to harnessing the power of big data and giving a glimpse of the future from Aster Data.

6) Other sponsors include Amazon Web Services, Informatica, and a new partner of ours, Impetus.

Hope to see you at the show.

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By rpai in Blogroll on November 11, 2009

Last week I attended Bank of America’s Technology Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley. In attendance were leading technology executives from Bank of America who outlined needs and challenges for the global banking giant. BofA’s annual IT spend is greater than $5 Billion, serving  almost 59 million, or one out of every two U.S. households and distribution strength of about six thousand branches, 18,000 ATMs and 24 million online banking customers, and more than 3,000 customer touches every second. Key themes discussed involved Cloud computing, Information Management, Security, Mobility and Green IT. And as I sat through the panel discussions and spoke to some of the IT leaders, it became evident that underpinning all the major business and IT initiatives for the global bank was a central theme – Lots of data, need for better and faster insights.

A senior BofA IT executive stated “Broad BI and data mining remain objectives, not realized goals�. There was a high level of interest in analytics and a big drive to be information-driven across business units.

Clearly, for a large bank like BofA, the business drivers exist. For example, the consumer channels executive was interested in understanding consumer behavior across different channels. In a saturated marketplace for retail customers and facing stiff competition from Chase (now owns WaMu), Wells Fargo (now owns Wachovia), BofA is keenly interested in strengthening its bond with its existing customer base.  With thousands of interactions per second, every interaction with the customer is an opportunity to learn more about customer behavior and customer preferences.

 In the credit card division, early detection of fraud patterns can translate into big savings for a market that is undergoing dramatic transformation due to reforms mandated by Congress. 

On the IT front, BofA has lots of existing investments in BI tools and data management software.

So where is the gap? Why are BI/data mining unrealized goals?

The answer lies in re-thinking and challenging the status quo in data management and analytic application development in today’s big data IT environments. Google, Amazon, and other innovators are leading this and it is only a matter of time before leaders in the financial services industry follow suit. A new mandate and architecture for big data applications  is emerging.

This new class of analytic applications will require a strategic investment in infrastructure that embraces assimilating advanced analytics processing right next to the terabytes to petabytes of enterprise data for key business initiatives including

  • Customer service effectiveness to predict customer requirements as well as fully understand customer relationships across branch office, ATM, online, and mobile channels
  • Ability to respond faster to regulators or to management and driving decisions based on insights driven from accurate, timely data

Broader, more pervasive BI and richer Analytics is on the threshold of becoming a reality!

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By Steve Wooledge in Blogroll on November 10, 2009

Aster Data 4.0 is here and for those of you who subscribe to Aster Data’s blog, “Winning with Data�, you may have noticed that we’ve changed things up a bit.  This blog is now called the “Big Data Blog� and will continue to be a mash-up of opinions and news from the team at Aster Data. Topics will continue to be a mix of technical deep-dives as well as company announcements and content.

At the same time, our CEO and co-founder Mayank will be sharing his thoughts on a separate blog called “Winning with Data� where he will talk about his perspectives of the market trends, customer use-cases, technology evolution and company growth. You can find all of his previous posts there, as well as fresh content starting with the announcement of Aster Data’s massively parallel data-application server.

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