A logical partnership announcements this morning from Tableau and Altiscale could result in organizations having the ability to improve their business performance through visualizations.
Altiscale offers a so-called big data as a service platform. Essentially Altiscale is another vendor that offers its customers the exciting promise of being able to shove all of its data off into the cloud to have it crunched at will. Tableau, on the other hand, is all about helping organizations to visualize their data. Tableau paints all those pretty data-pictures that organizations splash around the place to help people to understand what their data actually means.
The coming together of analytics with visualizations is an ongoing trend and for very good reason. Data scientists, those pointy headed individuals who can actually glean information from statistical formulae and screeds of data, are increasingly in-demand. In a market-driven economy, that means that those individuals are increasingly expensive. The onus rests, therefore, on technology solutions to do at least some of the heavy lifting that would more usually be provided by data scientists - and this is the reason we're increasingly seeing analytics tools being tied to visualization platforms.
Of course, the waters are far more muddied than that, especially so given the annoying occurrence of every charting and visualization vendor calling their product an analytics tool. It may seem like a semantic discussion, but analytics is about crunching numbers and building statistical models from data. That is very different from visualization which, while an important part of the puzzle, doesn't solve the most scientific requirements of analysis.
Anyway, this partnership takes Altiscale's Insight Cloud, an analytics platform based on Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, and ties it into Tableau's existing visualization tools. The Altiscale part of the deal sees organizations more readily get an analytics platform - one which is fully managed and hence doesn't require large operational or IT teams. It also allows the data science resource that organizations do have to be applied only to the data science problem-set, and not have to worry about more mundane operational matters.
All of this is, of course, increasingly important as organizations try and get their heads around the sheer volume of data which they have at their disposal:
“The volumes of market, product and customer data that enterprises are rapidly accumulating will serve as the motive force behind the next wave of business innovation,” said Raymie Stata, CEO, Altiscale. “Today, this data, typically stored in Hadoop, is primarily the province of programmers and data engineers. With this new Tableau partnership, this high-potential information will be available more broadly within an organization to the tens of thousands of business analysts and other business professionals who use Tableau on a daily basis.”
With this partnership, Altiscale and Tableau can be connected directly to Altiscale's cloud, or alternatively via an ODBC connection. Once connected, building a visualization is similar to working with other databases, where the user can drag and drop fields to create visualizations, filter data, utilize analytics, derive insights and ultimately publish out results to Tableau Server.
The question that remains is whether individual standalone platforms for analytics and visualizations will be viable into the future, or whether a single vendor offering that covers analytics and visualizations will be a core requirement for fast-moving organizations. Either way, this partnership is positive for both of these vendors and will help them to tell a more holistic story around the use of data.
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