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Kaitlin Brunsden

BI in the Cloud: Chatting with Kognitio

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What follows is my podcast with John Thompson, CEO of Kognitio's North American operations. We discuss the rise of BI SaaS, or BI in the cloud, among mid-tier companies. We learn how Kognitio pioneered the concept of BI SaaS with Data warehousing as a Service. John will offer his insight on where "big data" is headed and what is the realistic future for data analytics and business intelligence.

Listen to the 7:05 podcast below:

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KB: Can you please provide us with a brief overview of your company?

JT: Certainly. Kognitio is a company that focuses on business intelligence and data warehousing. We offer our solution in three different forms. We either sell our WX2 relational database for analytical processing as a piece of software, or as a hardware/software appliance a la Netezza, and Teradata, and companies like that, or we delivery it in a services form. We have what we have call data warehousing-as-a-service and many companies are finding that rather than buying the hardware and software they would prefer to go to the services route.

KB: Today's topic is BI SaaS or BI in the Cloud. So John, tell us about the growth and spread of business intelligence among mid-tier companies.

JT: Absolutely. We have a number of companies that are coming to us and we're finding them through our marketing efforts as well who are saying we really want to understand our business better. We have a number of datasets about our customers, about our products, our web activity, our different channels that we sell into and we would like to bring that information together. The problem that they are facing as mid-tier companies is that they don't have the resources, or the personnel, or the capital budget that you would see in Fortune 500 companies. So they find the data warehousing-as-a-service offering very attractive because there's no upfront cost, they can begin their operations and their data integration very quickly and they can be up and running in some cases as short as 48 hours.

We do work with a number of companies that we put together production systems that take a month or two to build and then they pay for it on a subscription basis so no capital expenditures, no CapEx expense, no hardware or software to purchase and no heavy-duty upfront investment required. They can just get started and Kognitio takes care of all the backend data management, the SLAs, the integration and the maintenance of the hardware and software for them.

KB: How has the emergence of cloud computing and SaaS helped foster that growth?

JT: Cloud computing and SaaS are getting jumbled up in the marketing messages of many firms. I think the term "cloud washing" has been bandied about where people are just adding cloud to all their marketing materials. But there really is a movement in cloud computing that does help mid-tier and Fortune 500 or Tier 1 companies as well. They are finding that they can use highly virtualized environments, or outsourced environments, and SaaS environments in a way that, as I mentioned in my previous answers, cuts down their CapEx expense, their hardware and software expenditures and they can flexibly use those resources.

So if they want to start with a small amount of data and small amount of computing resources they can do so. They can do that via Amazon and a number of other providers out there where they can put it on their personal credit card and expense it and get up and running in just a few days and really find out is this something that we're going to be able to make money with, is this something that we're going to be able to make actionable decisions with. So it's a great environment for experimentation, which has helped the data warehousing and business intelligence field because over the years people have been reticent to jump into it because there's been such as hefty price tag associated with it.

KB: Kognitio pioneered the concept of BI SaaS with its data warehousing-as-a-service. How has its adoption changed the way both you and your clients look as the deployment of data analytics?

JT: It's been surprising. We started providing data warehousing-as-a-service over ten years ago and we have a couple of customers that have been with us for that entire time. What has changed recently with the rise of cloud computing and SaaS, as we just discussed in the previous question, that companies are now experimenting. They're jumping into it with both feet and we have a number of customers coming to us saying I want to buy an appliance. I've heard all the hype, I've read all the materials; I've talked the analyst. I really want to buy an appliance. But to prove the value of that appliance, they want to do a proof of concept or a POC.

We do that POC with our customers and our prospects as a cost to sales; it doesn't cost them anything to do it. And then, when we reach the end of the POC and they say yes, I see the value, I want to engage in this, I want to have this solution. Many of them opt, and have changed their mind, and go and say, I thought I wanted to buy an appliance, but given that it's running in your center as a DaaS service right now in the POC form, why don't we just convert that to a production service. I'll pay for it on a subscription basis and keep rolling forward. So it gets into the form of if it's working, why change it. Just leave it as it is and roll it along and that we have found has been kind of a surprise to us because we always expect to redo the POC, the customers choose a different delivery mechanism and we would go that way. But often, more often than not, people are saying just leave it in a services form and we're happy with it.

KB: The trend towards big data is prevalent these days with larger amounts of data being analyzed faster than ever. Where is this headed and what do you think is the realistic future for data analytics and business intelligence?

JT: There definitely is a trend towards big data Kaitlin, you're absolutely right. We see more and more people bringing not just large sets of singular data like web data or customer data. We see people bringing in six, seven, eight different sources of data and bringing that together and any one of those sources can be big. And when they're integrated together, they're even bigger so there is a trend towards big data and bigger data. And there is also a trend towards more interactive and more sophisticated analytics and that's something that Kognitio and our product WX2, welcome wholeheartedly.

We have always been proponents and supporters of people engaging actively with their data so they can make decisions and understand how their business runs from a realistic data based perspective. So we believe that data will continue to grow in leaps and bounds as we've seen across all industries from online retail, financial services, to insurance, to Telcos, it just goes on and on. And we do believe that there will be a rise of more analytically oriented managers out and away from what we typically and historically have seen where there's a group of people who are analysts.

Now what we think and what we believe will happen if that front line managers will be analysts and they will be empowered to do their analytics for their area and for a broader part of the corporation and they will engage in the data more actively than their predecessors have. So we believe that it'll be more of a dissemination where analytics is just imbued in all the operations of the company and managers who come in and take over those areas will be numerant, and literate, and feel very comfortable in analyzing a broad set of data in a very sophisticated way.

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Jayaprakash Kannoth

Jayaprakash Kannoth is Software Engineer at TechTarget. His areas of interest include business process management, enterprise architecture, business intelligence , cloud/infrastructure computing and technology in business.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way.

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