Tag Archives: visualization

Tibco analytics capabilities get upgrade in Spotfire X

Spotfire X, the latest iteration of the Tibco analytics and data visualization platform, aims to give users a more streamlined experience by incorporating more AI and machine learning capabilities when the upgraded platform is released this fall.

Notably, the platform update, characterized by what Tibco has dubbed a new “A(X) Experience,” will enable users to type in requests to navigate and visualize their data through natural language processing (NLP), to automatically record dataflows that can later be explored and edited. It also will natively stream data in real time from dozens of sources.

The new Spotfire X features are designed to create a faster and simpler user experience, according to Brad Hopper, vice president of product strategy, analytics and streaming at the integration and analytics software vendor. “This will allow us to take a complete novice off the street, put them in front of the tool, and no matter what they will get something back,” he said.

Search for simple

With the rise of citizen data scientists, it has become a trend for self-service analytics vendors to design platforms that are easier to use and more automatic, turning to employing AI and machine learning algorithms to do so.

Brad Hopper, TibcoBrad Hopper

Earlier this year, a Tibco competitor, Tableau, acquired MIT AI startup Empirical Systems, whose technology is expected to provide Tableau platforms with more advanced predictive analytics capabilities and better automated models. Also this year, Qlik, another big-name self-service analytics vendor, acquired startup Podium Data in a bid to better automate parts of its platforms and make them simpler to use.

“There is a trend in the market … for AI and machine learning to be used to explore all the possible data, all the possible variables,” said Rita Sallam, a Gartner analyst.

With the new Spotfire X features, Tibco analytics is looking forward, even if the features aren’t necessarily innovative on their own, she said.

“They’re leveraging natural language as a way to initiate a question and they are, based on that question, generating all the statistically meaningful insight on that data so the user can see all the possible insights on that data,” Sallam said.

A(X) Experience in Tibco Spotfire X
The A(X) Experience in Tibco’s Spotfire X enables faster and easier analytics with NLP tools and improved AI

AI advice

With the A(X) Experience, Spotfire X also will deliver AI-driven recommendations for users.

“We’ve built in a fairly sophisticated machine learning model behind the scenes,” Hopper said.

The Tibco analytics platform can already use AI to automatically index different pieces of data and suggest relationships between them.

Now from the Spotfire X’s NLP-powered search box, users will be able to receive a list of visualization recommendations, starting first with “classical recommendations” before getting to “a ranked list of interesting structural variations,” Hopper explained.

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson said the Tibco analytics and Spotfire X moves are “yet another confirmation of a trend that leading BI products need a dose of AI to remain effective.”

While AI is not replacing BI, BI tools that infuse AI functionality will displace the tools that don’t.
Boris Evelsonanalyst, Forrester

“While AI is not replacing BI, BI tools that infuse AI functionality will displace the tools that don’t,” Evelson said.

Tibco made the Spotfire X announcements during the Tibco Now conference in Las Vegas in early September 2018. 

The enhancements to Tibco analytics capabilities were among other product developments unveiled at the event. Others included the a user-partner collaboration program called Tibco Labs, more tools for Tibco Cloud, and a new collaboration between Tibco and manufacturing services company Jabil.

Zoomdata unveils data visualization and analytics channel program

Zoomdata, a data visualization and analytics vendor, has launched a global partner program as it looks to expand its roster of systems integrators.

Unveiled this week, the Zoomdata Application Partner program offers access to support representatives and integrated support systems, training, and sales and marketing resources. Zoomdata’s SI partners can also tap deal registration and tracking through a partner portal, the vendor said.

Zoomdata said in the last year it experienced “3X growth” in channel sales of its data visualization and analytics technology. Much of those sales were derived from SI partners in European and Asia-Pacific markets. About 30% of Zoomdata’s business is international, said Russ Cosentino, co-founder and vice president of channel sales at Zoomdata, based in Reston, Va.

Cosentino said Zoomdata aims to have a global base of about 100 SI partners within the next year. About 30 partners, including global systems integrators Deloitte, Atos, Hitachi INS and Infosys, currently provide the vendor’s data visualization and analytics tools. Zoomdata also has alliances with regional SIs focused on specific geographic and vertical markets such as pharmaceuticals and life sciences, telecom, and financial services.

“For us, a good partner is a partner that brings to the table skilled resources [from] across the big data ecosystem,” Cosentino said.

Quisitive inks blockchain pact with SaaS provider

Quisitive Technology Solutions Inc., a Microsoft national solution provider, is under contract with Jumptuit, a SaaS company, to build a blockchain solution that tracks subscriptions and entitlements.

Jumptuit, based in New York, offers a search assistant service that uses AI to find users’ documents, photos, audio and video files. The SaaS offering supports Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft OneDrive and other cloud services.

Scotty Perkins, senior vice president of product innovation at Quisitive, said Microsoft referred Jumptuit to Quisitive after the SaaS provider approached Microsoft about a blockchain solution. Quisitive met with Jumptuit, held a requirements workshop and is now in the process of completing a proof of concept, he said. 

Quisitive’s propriety blockchain solution, which uses Microsoft Azure, will let Jumptuit track active subscriptions, who they belong to and when they are up for renewal. On the entitlement side, the blockchain offering will determine the level of information access users have based on the terms of their subscriptions.

Quisitive, a portfolio company of Fusion Agiletech Partners Inc., focuses on Microsoft technology and has made private blockchain deployment one of its areas of emphasis. Quisitive has offices in Dallas, Denver and Toronto.

Zebra Technologies targets healthcare partners

Zebra Technologies Corp. is offering preferred product pricing to participants in its recently launched healthcare specialization program.

The Lincolnshire, Ill., company targets a number of verticals, but has created a series of purpose-built products for the healthcare industry. Those include mobile computers, barcode scanners, printers, patient wristbands and barcode label supplies.

Bill Cate, vice president of global channel strategy, programs and operations at Zebra Technologies, said healthcare has emerged as the company’s strongest growth opportunity, with the North American market experiencing particularly rapid expansion.

Zebra Technologies’ healthcare specialization, part of the company’s PartnerConnect Partner Program, has four segments:

  • Healthcare solutions specialists — Companies in this category dedicate their entire business model to healthcare. Cate pointed to Cerner and McKesson as examples.
  • Group purchasing organization (GPO) provider specialists — GPOs aggregate purchasing to negotiate vendor discounts for healthcare organizations. This specialization segment is designed for partners that have built healthcare sales groups. Cate cited CDW and Insight Enterprises as examples.
  • Advanced specialists — This segment is for hardware and services integrators that have devoted a large percentage of their businesses to healthcare.
  • Specialists — Partners in this segment include systems integrators that maintain a focus on healthcare, but dedicate a smaller percentage of their business to that vertical compared with advanced specialists.

Benefits for partners obtaining Zebra Technologies’ healthcare specialization include preferred pricing on the company’s purpose-built healthcare products. Other features include performance rebates, deal registration and specialized channel account managers.

Battery tech promises longer flights for drone service providers

Impossible Aerospace has unveiled a drone capable of flying two hours on a single charge, a development the company said dramatically increases the battery-powered flight time available to drone services providers.

The company manufactures the quad-rotor US-1 drones in Sunnyvale, Calif., and plans to begin deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2018. Impossible Aerospace also announced a $9.4 million round of funding, in which Bessemer Venture Partners is taking the lead. The company has raised more than $11 million in funding overall.

Spencer Gore, founder and CEO at Impossible Aerospace, said the two-hour unladen flight time can make an important difference for drone service providers accustomed to fight times in the 20-minute range — or less. Drone missions may be worth hundreds of dollars per hour for drone service providers, but the amount of time such companies spend changing or charging batteries proves an economic drain.

The US-1 drone’s flight time can “help drone service providers counting on more endurance in order to do their work,” Gore said.

Impossible Aerospace is positioning its initial drone as a surveillance product, geared toward law enforcement, public safety and private security organizations. Gore said the longer flight time stems from the company’s engineering approach, which starts with the battery as opposed to the airframe. The company’s design principle is to make sure “everything in the aircraft serves at least two roles,” one of which should be storing, using or transporting electricity, Gore said.

Other news

  • Bomgar’s pending acquisition of BeyondTrust in the privileged access management space could expand sales opportunities for channel partners working with those companies. The combined company will create an integrated channel program. “Based on the sizable scale and mass of BeyondTrust’s channel presence, we will continue to build upon what has already been successful,” said Matt Dircks, CEO at Bomgar. “We expect that the integration process will enable legacy partners to cross-sell both BeyondTrust and Bomgar products by 2019.” The deal is expected to close in October 2018.
  • Adtran, a networking solutions provider, unveiled an enterprise Wi-Fi solution for service providers. The company said the offering features machine learning technology and a cloud-managed IT model.
  • Identity and access management vendor OneLogin has bolstered its partner program. The OneLogin Accelerate program will now feature expanded training programs, new sales tools and incentives, and a partner portal featuring deal management and marketing campaigns, the company said. OneLogin noted that for a limited time it will offer extra margins for enterprise deals.
  • InterVision, a solution provider headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., and St. Louis, expanded its cloud services capabilities with the acquisition of Infiniti Consulting Group. Infiniti, based in Folsom, Calif., will provide InterVision with expertise in AWS and Azure, hybrid cloud, on-premises cloud services, and software design and development, according to InterVision.
  • Green House Data, a company that provides managed services, cloud hosting and Microsoft advisory services, announced an international expansion. The company said it has open positions in Costa Rica and Sri Lanka, noting that it now provides IT services and consulting from six countries.
  • Kofax has entered an alliance with PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide intelligent automation solutions. Kofax offers robotic process automation and digital transformation products.
  • HyperGrid, a hybrid cloud management vendor, announced the closing of a $25 million Series C funding round. The move follows a year of 300% revenue growth across the company’s enterprise and MSP customer base.
  • Software analytics company New Relic revealed a developer program. The program helps customers and partners take advantage of application and infrastructure data, enhance their New Relic data capabilities, and automate New Relic into their workflows, New Relic said.
  • Nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA introduced a member community focused on emerging technologies. The CompTIA Emerging Technology Community will explore opportunities involving a number of developing technologies, such as IoT, 5G wireless, 3D printing and quantum computing, CompTIA said.
  • NetEnrich, a managed cloud services provider, appointed David Dragonetti to vice president of global sales.
  • Convey Services said it added Mango Voice and ComTec Cloud to its roster of vertical market solutions available through its Channel Accelerator program. Mango Voice, a hosted voice provider, specializes in the hospitality and dental industries. ComTec, meanwhile, provides a unified communications voice platform in the healthcare and education markets.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Alteryx 2018.3 gives users new data visualization options

The general release of Alteryx 2018.3 is now available, bringing with it more data visualization tools in an effort by Alteryx Inc. to give users of the data preparation and analytics platform a broader set of visualization capabilities.

The quarterly update became generally available on Aug. 28. It also adds other new functionality to the Alteryx Analytics platform, including an analytics caching feature and a Python tool that will allow developers to write to Jupyter Notebook. In addition, Alteryx 2018.3 offers faster performance, more server management options and increased support for the Spark processing engine.

For users, the highlights of the new release are likely to be the additional visualization tools and the caching capability. The need for better data visualization is particularly acute. While Gartner ranked Alteryx among the leading vendors in its 2018 Magic Quadrant report on data science and machine learning platforms, it faulted the company for reporting and visualization capabilities that “remain comparatively weak.”

An increased focus on visualization

Alteryx 2018.3 clearly aims to address the visualization gap by expanding an embedded collection of tools called Visualytics, which Alteryx introduced last August.

Putting in visuals that allow customers to explore data sets has particular positive connotations to us.
Ryan Peelerdirector of network analytics at Voxx Analytics

Following user requests for more, Alteryx has added a tool for building and sharing interactive charts and graphs that resulted from a 2017 partnership deal with visualization vendor Plotly. Alteryx users can now also combine multiple interactive charts together and share them with other users for collaborative analysis, said Greg Davoll, vice president of product marketing at the vendor, based in Irvine, Calif.

Meanwhile, the new caching tool enables users to create caching points in the analytics workflow process. If the process is stopped, it will be restarted from the caching point, without the need to completely start over. That can help reduce processing times, as it has done for Alteryx user Voxx Analytics.

A Garden Grove, Calif., company that provides what it calls influence analytics services to help companies hone their marketing outreach efforts, particularly in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industries, Voxx  was an early adopter of Alteryx 2018.3 as part of the beta program for the new release.

Ryan Peeler, director of network analytics at Voxx, said his team uses the Alteryx software to automate much of the name disambiguation process in analyzing data from social networks. Peeler added that the new caching tool has already saved him “a ton of time” on analytics processing jobs.

“Once I’ve pulled data once for a use case, I don’t need to keep downloading it,” he said. All that data now gets cached, “so the next time I run it, it picks up right where I left off.”

Still room for more improvement

The Visualytics enhancements are also of interest to Peeler, who said they have made it easier for him to create data visualizations for Voxx customers. Still, while he likes where Alteryx has gone with Visualytics thus far, he noted that if he could make a change to Alteryx’s software, it would be to further the platform’s visualization capabilities even more.

For example, Peeler said he would like to be able to export data visualizations from Alteryx to other analytics and reporting platforms, so they could be shared with corporate clients more easily. “Putting in visuals that allow customers to explore data sets has particular positive connotations to us,” he said.

Donald Farmer, principal of analytics consulting firm TreeHive Strategy, said the Visualytics components of Alteryx 2018.3 are notable enhancements.

“Visualytics recognizes what is too often overlooked in the data analysis user experience: that data preparation and analysis are two sides of the same coin,” he said. “These are really not separate processes. You prepare data with an analysis in mind, and as you develop the visualization or interpretation, you discover ways in which the data must be further prepared or refined to improve the analysis.”

The integrated capabilities provided by Alteryx are particularly useful for “data artisans, who are working hands-on with the data and not visualizing at the end of some other process,” Farmer continued. He also described the caching feature as “a significant enhancement for advanced users,” saying it will help ease the hassles of developing complex data flows.

Pricing in question

However, Farmer negatively noted the Alteryx platform’s pricing model, which charges users of the Alteryx Designer desktop tool an extra $6,500 per year for a feature that allows them to schedule analytics workflows and automate the generation of reports. That’s on top of the $5,195 annual base cost per user for the Designer software.

“In the 21st century, that’s like selling a car with a hand crank and charging extra for an electric starter,” Farmer said.

As for what users might expect beyond the Alteryx 2018.3 update, Davoll said to look for more automation and smart analytics capabilities. While not announced yet, the 2018.4 release will likely become available to beta users in the next couple weeks, he added.

On the data preparation side, vendors that Alteryx competes with include Datawatch, Paxata and Trifacta. In addition, self-service BI vendor Tableau, whose software is often complemented by Alteryx’s technology in user deployments, released its own Tableau Prep tool last spring, enabling  users to do at least some basic data preparation tasks directly in their Tableau systems.

According to Farmer, Alteryx 2018.3 could be seen partly as a response to Tableau Prep that’s designed to raise Alteryx’s analytics and data visualization profile with users. Although, he said the Tableau tool “has been less impactful on Alteryx than many expected.”

Reflect adds color to Puppet DevOps tools

Data visualization specialist Reflect enlivens the growing Puppet DevOps tool portfolio, but it’s unclear if Puppet’s wares will catch enterprise customers’ attention in a busy marketplace.

The purchase of Reflect, a startup company based in Portland, Ore., shows that Puppet has little choice but to reinvent itself as containers pull users’ attention away from traditional configuration management, analysts said. Data visualization, a way to portray data so that it’s easily understood by people, will also be increasingly important as microservices architectures expand and IT management complexity skyrockets.

“The ability to paint pretty pictures [of data] is not just a ‘nice to have’ feature,” said Charles Betz, analyst at Forrester Research. “It’s important as microservices become more difficult to visualize and manage.”

Puppet didn’t specify  its plans to integrate Reflect’s software with its Puppet Enterprise, Puppet Discovery and continuous delivery tools, but competitors in DevOps pipeline tools, such as Electric Cloud and XebiaLabs, recently added monitoring and visualization features to illustrate the health of pipelines. It’s a safe bet Puppet DevOps tools must also move in that direction, Betz said.

“Puppet has non-trivial data stores already, a lot of it systems configuration data that’s very close to the metal in Puppet Enterprise’s core data repository,” he said.

Puppet CEO Sanjay MirchandaniSanjay Mirchandani

Puppet lacks a data warehouse or data analytics offering to feed into Reflect’s visual tools, but company CEO Sanjay Mirchandani declined to say whether another acquisition or internal IP will fill in that layer of the architecture.

Containers, infrastructure as code invade configuration management’s turf

Enterprise IT shops are overwhelmed by a wall of marketing noise from vendors that want to be their one-stop shop for DevOps. But one vendor or one tool won’t necessarily solve technical problems in infrastructure automation, said Ernest Mueller, director of engineering operations at AlienVault, an IT security firm based in San Mateo, Calif., which plans to reduce its use of Puppet’s configuration management tools.

“As we move to Docker and immutable infrastructure deployments, our goal is to cut the lines of Puppet code we use in half,” Mueller said. “We’re trying to shift configuration management left — adding it at the end just creates problems, because if you try to do the same configuration operation on a thousand different servers, it’s bound to fail on one of them.”

Mueller monitors upgraded capabilities from vendors such as Chef and Puppet, and is interested in a CI/CD process for infrastructure as code. Puppet’s reusable manifests appeal to Mueller more than Chef’s community-maintained cookbooks, but competitor Chef InSpec’s continuous integration-style security and compliance testing intrigues him for infrastructure code.

Overall, though, infrastructure as code testing and deployment still needs a lot of development, and tools are still emerging to help, Mueller said.

“You can’t just apply an application CI/CD tool to infrastructure code,” he said. “In our application unit tests, for example, the best practice is never to call a public API, but what if the code is creating an Amazon Machine Image? The nature of infrastructure as code means there’s no one answer for CI/CD today, and figuring out how to stitch together multiple tools takes a lot of work, without a good reference architecture.”

We’re more interested in [CI/CD tools] like Netflix’s Spinnaker, which plugs in well to Kubernetes. … Distelli is good for heavy Puppet users, [but] there’s just a proliferation of tools to consider.
Andy Domeierdirector of technology operations, SPS Commerce

Presumably, the Puppet DevOps portfolio means it will expand its CI/CD tools’ integrations and coverage beyond Puppet Enterprise code, but right now Continuous Delivery for Puppet Enterprise doesn’t cover other infrastructure as code tools such as HashiCorp’s Terraform, which Mueller’s shop also uses.

A former Puppet user that switched to Red Hat’s Ansible infrastructure automation tool said despite Puppet’s acquisitions he likely won’t re-evaluate its CI/CD tools.

“We’re more interested in things like Netflix’s Spinnaker, which plugs in well to Kubernetes [for container orchestration],” said Andy Domeier, director of technology operations at SPS Commerce, a communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses based in Minneapolis. Spinnaker is a multi-cloud continuous delivery platform open sourced by the same company that made Chaos Monkey.

“Distelli is good for heavy Puppet users, but I wish it had been around earlier. Now there’s just a proliferation of tools to consider.”

Puppet and Chef face game of DevOps musical chairs

As containers and container orchestration tools begin to replace the need for server-level automation in enterprise data centers, configuration management tool vendors such as Puppet and Chef have refocused on higher-ordered IT infrastructure and application automation. Chef has attacked the space with its homegrown Chef Automate, Chef Habitat and Chef InSpec tools, which add application-focused IT automation to complement the company’s configuration management products. Puppet has expanded its product portfolio through acquisition under Mirchandani, who took over as CEO in 2016. Puppet bought CI/CD and container orchestration vendor Distelli in 2017 and rereleased some of Distelli’s software as Continuous Delivery for Puppet Enterprise, which performs continuous integration testing and continuous deployment tasks for Puppet’s infrastructure as code, in early 2018.

“Puppet hasn’t had much choice but to develop a strategy that moves into some adjacencies — otherwise Kubernetes is an existential threat,” Betz said.

In addition to Chef, Electric Cloud and XebiaLabs, a Puppet DevOps bid must fend off a horde of competitors from Red Hat to Docker to AWS and Microsoft Azure, and all seek revenues in a relatively small market, Betz said. Forrester estimates the total DevOps tools market size at $1 billion, compared to $2 to $3 billion for application performance monitoring, another relatively niche space. Both those markets are dwarfed by the market for IT service management tools, which Forrester estimates to be an order of magnitude bigger.

“It’s a game of musical chairs, and many of those chairs will be suddenly pulled out, especially if the economy even hiccups,” Betz said. “There’s no question this market will further consolidate.”