Big Data continues to be red hot within the venture capital space as evinced by the finalization of $20M in Series B funding for Platfora, the San Mateo-based business intelligence platform for Big Data and Hadoop. The funding round was led by Battery Ventures with additional participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Sutter Hill Ventures. The capital raise will be used to expand Platfora’s sales and marketing teams as well as to add depth and talent to its engineering and design teams.
Platfora’s value proposition within the Big Data business intelligence space consists in its ability to transform Hadoop-based Big Data into “interactive, in-memory business intelligence” that dispenses with the need for an ETL job or data warehouse. Platfora’s innovative BI interface enables data scientists and business users alike to interactively explore the relevant data landscape through the product’s web-based interface. Platfora allows users to segment and compare data subsets, collaborate by way of annotations, seamlessly switch between visual and numeric representations of data as well export data to csv format or png images.
Platfora’s CEO Ben Werther elaborated on the product’s value proposition in a blog post that proclaimed the death of the traditional data warehouse as follows:
We’ve been living in the dark ages of data management. We’ve been conditioned to believe that it is right and proper to spend a year or more architecting and implementing a data warehouse and business intelligence solution. That you need teams of consultants and IT people to make sense of data. We are living in the status quo of practices developed 30 years ago — practices that are the lifeblood of companies like Oracle, IBM and Teradata.
And yet to build a data warehouse I’d be expected to perfectly predict what data would be important and how I’d want to question it, years in advance, or spend months rearchitecting every time I was wrong. This is actually considered ‘best practice’.
Imagine what is possible. Raw data of any kind or type lands in Hadoop with no friction. Everyday business users can interactively explore, visualize and analyze any of that data immediately, with no waiting for an IT project. One question can lead to the next and take them anywhere through the data. And the connective tissue that makes this possible — bridging between lumbering batch-processing Hadoop and this interactive experience — are ‘software defined’ scale-out in-memory data marts that automatically evolve with users questions and interest.
Werther, who was previously Director of Product Management at Greenplum, notes that the “dark ages of data management” require companies to allocate teams of resources to create a data warehouse and define schemas that “predict what data would be important” and “how I’d want to question it, years in advance, or spend months rearchitecting every time I was wrong.” Platfora, in contrast, delivers a platform whereby users can visually and interactively engage data without waiting for months of costly data architecture as a foundational, precursor step. Importantly, Werther here takes direct aim at traditional business intelligence giants such as Oracle, IBM and Teradata by proclaiming the death of both the traditional data warehouse and the business intelligence platforms that supported it. Built on HTML 5 technology, the product’s interface is optimized for data drill-downs by users and collaborative communication.
According to GigaOm, this week’s funding raise brings Platfora’s total funding to $25.7 million after it emerged from stealth mode in October, roughly a year after its initial $5.7 million capital raise. Platfora’s funding raise was announced in conjunction with recent product enhancements by BI vendors such as Tableau, Talend, Jaspersoft and Pentaho, all of which revealed details of upgraded functionality to their BI, Hadoop-supported platforms within the last month. Given the current labor shortage of skilled data scientists that can write advanced Hadoop queries in MapReduce or Hive, Big Data platforms that, like Platfora, are rich in visualization functionality are likely to take the cake in the battle for big data BI market share as long as they can remain competitive in terms of data processing speed and analytic granularity as well.