A few weeks ago, I described the elements of an “analytic computing system” or “analytic platform,” while reserving judgment as to which of the two terms would or should win out. I am now capitulating to the term analytic platform, under the influence of, among others, Sharmila Mulligan (and Aster Data in general), Vertica and a variety of fellow analysts (Merv Adrian, Neil Raden, Seth Grimes, Jim Kobielus, and Colin White). While Google evidence would suggest it’s way too early to make this call, I think it’s time to say “analytic platform” will win.
What’s more, I now think the phrase “analytic platform” should win. While I think the term “platform” is overused to the point of silliness, at least the phrase “analytic platform” is short. Thus, it could be modified in various descriptive or not-so-descriptive ways: “Advanced analytic platform,” “graph analytics platform,” “customer analytics platform,” “social media analytics platform,” “CRM analytics platform,” “text analytics platform,” or whatever. By way of contrast, try doing that with “analytic computing system,” and see if you can keep a straight face.
To take this in the direction of an actual definition, I’ll say that the three essential elements of an analytic platform are:
- Strong support for analytic database query. In every case I’d now acknowledge, that’s “database management and query,” but I want to leave a little wiggle room for the future. I definitely want to leave room for a variety of query styles — at a minimum, SQL, MDX or graph.
- Strong support for analytic processes other than queries. Typically these would be in the areas of mathematics (statistics, predictive analytics, data mining, linear algebra, optimization, graph theory, etc.) and/or data transformation (e.g. sessionization, entity extraction).
- Strong integration between the first two.
The point is — an analytic platform is something on which you can build a range of powerful analytic applications. Some specifics of what to look for in analytic platform may be found in the link above.
So what do you think? And, if you basically approve of the term, should there be an “s” in “analytic(s) platform” or not? In any case, please remember one thing — no product category definition is ever perfect.