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With the release of Business Analytics version 4.5, Pentaho has expanded its platform and tools to address the needs of business and IT. The product has come a long way since the version 4 release less than a year ago, which broke ground in ease of use and support for big-data sources. Advancing beyond its roots in business intelligence, Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 addresses data discovery, data integration and data mining and provides visual discovery and analytics that operate against stores of big data.
New data discovery features in version 4.5 include a group of interactive visualizations for geo-mapping, heat grids, and scatter and bubble charts. These visualizations are starting points for navigating into usually big amounts of data. Significant improvements to data caching have made visual discovery very responsive even when spanning through big data. You can easily navigate into the visualizations through simple selections or interactions on it. I like the way Pentaho has added geographic visualization and location intelligence to business analytics and its ability to add geographic layers from Google to help better understand the context of location. Also, by adding visualizations within tables and reports of business facts and figures, Pentaho makes it easier to pinpoint over- and underperformers. Visual discovery is useful for analysts who are tired of tools that do not provide enough interactive visualization and analytics, including Microsoft Excel.
Pentaho has expanded its support for non-SQL environments such as Apache Cassandra, DataStax and MongoDB through read and write interfaces for reporting and analytics. In version 4.5 Pentaho expands its existing support for Hadoop. The software can now be more easily deployed across Hadoop clusters, and supports secure Hadoop clusters. Pentaho recently announced support for MapR and now adds support for Apache, Cloudera and Hortonworks. The Pentaho MapReduce visual designer is easier to use with Pentaho Data Integration (Kettle). Users can visually access and integrate big-data sources and others through Pentaho Data Integration’s workflow and rules. This ease of use is essential, as our benchmark research on big data found that usability has the highest level of importance for evaluating vendors and their products in 69 percent of organizations.
Pentaho also recently released a new data quality product; the consistency and quality of data are even more critical as the volumes and velocity of data increase. Our recent benchmark research on information management trends found that organizations that utilize data quality software trust their business facts and figures almost 25 percent more than those that do not. Data quality and data integration are two of the key components of information management according to our benchmark, and having them work together for business analytics is critical to improving the data pipeline for analysts. I expect that Pentaho will offer more direct and even virtualized access to big data without having to integrate data from Hadoop and other sources into a relational database for analysis.
Pentaho also licenses its products to other software providers to embed in their own. As part of this effort, in version 4.5 it has added more flexibility for partners to add visualizations and data sources through its interface and scripting. Embedding business analytics as part of applications helps broaden use of the technology.
You can freely download the open source and trial versions of Pentaho’s products, and the company says it gets a download every 30 seconds. I would like Pentaho to advance further its collaboration and search capabilities to make the analytics more business-driven. I also wish tablet users could access the mobile capabilities in the latest version through a single link from its website.
Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 brings together support for discovery and navigation of data, and with Pentaho Data Integration and Data Quality addresses the top obstacle we found in our business analytics benchmark research, that two-thirds of the analytics process is spent on data-related tasks. Its expanding support for Hadoop is critical, as our benchmark on Hadoop and information management found that Hadoop projects require significantly more data integration and visualization than non-Hadoop environments. This new release helps business and IT work together. Users can massage data and perform analysis with an integrated set of products from a single vendor, which our research finds less than one in five organizations do today. If you have not taken a look at Pentaho, investigate this version, as it is a great example of business intelligence growing into business analytics.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer
Making business use of the vast amount of information on the Web and Internet along with a company’s intranet is no easy task. Kapow Software aims to help by providing tools to define and virtualize access to information, integrate it with other information, such as that in databases, and present it in a useful format. The tool can supply access to data from legacy applications such as PeopleSoft and Siebel, newer applications from Oracle and SAP and applications in cloud computing environments, such as Salesforce.com’s. And Kapow Software not only accesses and integrates information from applications but also enriches it.
Kapow’s platform, called Katalyst, contains several components. Design Studio lets you specify application integration processes called robots, which define a process flow to handle information from multiple sources. Katalyst can source and target across various standards and technologies, including XML. Kapow recently announced support of Salesforce’s APEX code in Katalyst Apex Generator. The software supports Salesforce applications for sales and customer service as well as applications custom-built with Force.com. Katalyst’s RoboServer component runs the robots users create in Design Studio. In essence the product generates and executes application-specific code. To ensure consistent processing, Kapow Automation Browser provides an interface for harvesting information within a Web browser. The platform’s Management Console lets users monitor the processing of integration jobs. Katalyst also lets you impose security constraints to limit access for individuals to only the information you want them to have. The platform can operate on-premises or within cloud computing environments.
Kapow says it has more than 500 customers using the technology for information-related application integration. The company is finding opportunities in big data, cloud computing and mobile enablement. While it can help in other areas, these three can produce immediate value as companies strive to use their information for business needs.
Our benchmark research on information applications found that more than half (53%) of organizations are not satisfied with their existing approaches to accessing, assembling and publishing information, and from one-quarter to half of organizations require information from numerous sources, including content management systems, unstructured data, text from documents and reports and Web-based content from outside the enterprise.
Because it can access volumes of unstructured information, Kapow’s software can take big data and process it in technologies like Hadoop. Our benchmark research into Hadoop and Information Management found that 79 percent of organizations using Hadoop are challenged in staffing and 77 percent in training; Kapow addresses this issue with a dedicated tool for automating the interface to extract information and load it to big data technology environments. Our research also found that the largest growth in the next year among big-data environments will happen in hosted systems (33%) and software as a service (31%); Kapow works in both.
Organizations adopting cloud -based applications often find that information is not as easy to access as it is in on-premises applications, since it is being managed by someone else. Kapow supports integration of cloud applications through its Automation Browser, which acts as the integration interface to the applications. Our business data in the cloud benchmark research found immature processes in accessing cloud-based data, even as two-thirds of organizations will deploy more than three cloud applications in the next year, and 43 percent have that number already deployed. Given that 86 percent of organizations see the importance of accessing data in the cloud and more than three-quarters want to automate the integration, Kapow is worth evaluating for organizations with cloud deployments that are creating manual points of integration or require custom coding.
The popularity of mobile technologies places pressure on IT to find ways to get applications onto smartphones and tablets. Many organizations lack the skills or capability to develop native applications, and quirks in mobile Web browsers prevent many existing applications from working directly on tablets or smartphones. Kapow has created a mobile enablement technology to use its core Katalyst to harvest and reassemble a Web application for mobile technology platforms. This unique type of application redirecting is already helping many organizations support their business needs on mobile platforms.
Kapow Katalyst 8.2, the most recent release, which came out in November 2011, added automation of workflow and data in real time. The next version, expected to be announced in the coming month, will increase support for big data through integration with products of some vendors that have commercialized Hadoop and advance integration with cloud-based applications.
Kapow Software helps organizations utilize their existing investments and integrate them with new ones through its unique harvesting of applications and information. Its applicability across business technology innovations such as big data, business analytics, the cloud and mobile computing provide it an opportunity to significantly grow in the coming year as organizations look for efficient ways to use these technologies. Its software provides a method of integrating just about any application and information from inside or outside of the enterprise. If you have not seen Kapow’s software, take a look and see how it can apply to your needs.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer