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Platfora's Big Data Platform Proclaims: BI is B.S.

Platfora's Big Data Platform Proclaims: BI is B.S.

The concept of "big data" has probably resulted in more disruption to our understanding of how a data warehouse should work, than to data warehouses themselves — at least thus far.  In recent weeks, Tom’s IT Pro has been publishing installments in my series on business intelligence (BI), whose core component for most enterprises has been the data warehouse.  It’s the place where an enterprise collects its principal repository of data used in reporting and analytics.

Until now the data warehouse has been the foundation for the relational database in the enterprise, and all the applications that are leveraged on top of that.  “Big data,” on the other hand, has its own foundation in mind, thank you very much: a new file system that handles unstructured data andthat incorporates storage volumes, both locally and remotely.  That’s Hadoop, the strangely named component that enables very fast, if very simple, processes on enormous clusters of data — clusters too large for the OLAP cubes around which the enterprise data universe once revolved. The enormity of big data is stemming from behavioral data, huge streams of unstructured sources, often with big content types.  Hadoop is a new fact of everyday existence in the data center; it’s not going away, especially since Microsoft began including it with Windows Server 2012.

So the problem for vendors in this space has been to define the place of Hadoop.  Newcomers, playing the disruption card, prefer to see it as a kind of “cluster bomb,” detonating existing silos and enabling a class of rapid-fire business analytics (BA) software, called dashboardsAnalytics veterans such as IBM prefer to play the integration card, arguing that Hadoop has one or more roles to play in a re-architected, data warehouse as a fast filter, data “landing zone,” and even archival maintenance system.

Scrambling for a middle ground amid these two extremes is San Mateo-based startup Platfora, whose strategy is to disrupt the disruptors.  With a bold and perhaps brash announcement this morning that includes the proclamation, "BI is BS," Platfora is re-introducing its own Big Data Analytics Platform (BDAP) as version 3.0

Although from a distance, it presents the profile of a visualization tool like Tableau, Platfora founder and CEO Ben Werther explains that the platform’s real purpose is to present detailed breakdowns of customer records, including Web site behaviors, purchase history, and call center activities.  BDAP looks for these common elements, but instead of relying upon IT professionals to craft queries using a language like SQL, it formulates Hadoop analytics streams that are already tailored to these records.

For those familiar with Platfora, version 3.0 adds the following three features:

  • Platfora Event Stream Analytics: Allows businesses to analyze the behavior of their customers and products across many “digital touchpoints,” such as clicks on a webpage, access on a mobile application, records from a call center, and even product sales. And to do this in a timely, actionable manner.

  • Platfora Iterative Segmentation: Allows businesses to segment and track their customers by their behaviors based on demographic data and those “digital touchpoints.”
  • Platfora Entity-Centric Data Catalog: Allows businesses to find relevant data and analysis based on how that data is organized around an entity, such as a customer or product.


Scott M. Fulton, III has chronicled the history of computing as it happened, from the unveiling of the Apple III to the undoing of MS-DOS to the rise of the cloud.  Scott was one of the original online managers of the Delphi network (you remember modems, don’t you?), part of the original editorial team of Computer Shopper (you remember paper, don’t you?), the Senior News Editor at Tom’s Hardware and the original TG Daily (you remember... never mind), and for four years served as managing editor of Betanews.  He’s the author of 17 books and over 5,000 articles printed worldwide in multiple languages.  Scott also appears as contributing technology analyst on NTN24’s Ciencia, Salud y Tecnología.  So basically, he has at least one finger in just about every medium, in hopes that maybe one of them will take root and bear fruit.  You never know, something could happen.  His fingers are crossed.  (Which could explain the typing problems.)  While he’s waiting, Scott and his wife Jennifer, herself a best-selling author (where do you think he gets it?), run Ingenus, LLC, an editorial services provider for technology and higher education publishers.  Right now, their daughter is probably on Tumblr telling her friends how Dad keeps finding something new to go wrong with his VCR. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @SMFulton3.

See here for all of Scott's Tom's IT Pro articles.