Discussion of Endeca and its products, chiefly the Latitude business intelligence product line and underlying technologies.

August 25, 2013

Cloudera Hadoop strategy and usage notes

When we scheduled a call to talk about Sentry, Cloudera’s Charles Zedlewski and I found time to discuss other stuff as well. One interesting part of our discussion was around the processing “frameworks” Cloudera sees as most important.

HBase was artificially omitted from this “frameworks” discussion because Cloudera sees it as a little bit more of a “storage” system than a processing one.

Another good subject was offloading work to Hadoop, in a couple different senses of “offload”: Read more

August 14, 2013

The two sides of BI

As is the case for most important categories of technology, discussions of BI can get confused. I’ve remarked in the past that there are numerous kinds of BI, and that the very origin of the term “business intelligence” can’t even be pinned down to the nearest century. But the most fundamental confusion of all is that business intelligence technology really is two different things, which in simplest terms may be categorized as user interface (UI) and platform* technology. And so:

*I wanted to say “server” or “server-side” instead of “platform”, as I dislike the latter word. But it’s too inaccurate, for example in the case of the original Cognos PowerPlay, and also in various thin-client scenarios.

Key aspects of BI platform technology can include:

Read more

March 24, 2013

Essential features of exploration/discovery BI

If I had my way, the business intelligence part of investigative analytics — i.e. , the class of business intelligence tools exemplified by QlikView and Tableau — would continue to be called “data exploration”. Exploration what’s actually going on, and it also carries connotations of the “fun” that users report having with the products. By way of contrast, I don’t know what “data discovery” means; the problem these tools solve is that the data has been insufficiently explored, not that it hasn’t been discovered at all. Still “data discovery” seems to be the term that’s winning.

Confusingly, the Teradata Aster library of functions is now called “Discovery” as well, although thankfully without the “data” modifier. Further marketing uses of the term “discovery” will surely follow.

Enough terminology. What sets exploration/discovery business intelligence tools apart? I think these products have two essential kinds of feature:

Read more

October 18, 2011

Oracle is buying Endeca

Oracle is buying Endeca. The official talking points for the deal aren’t a perfect match for Endeca’s actual technology, but so be it.

In that post, I wrote:

… the Endeca paradigm is really to help you make your way through a structured database, where different portions of the database have different structures. Thus, at various points in your journey, it automagically provides you a list of choices as to where you could go next.

That kind of thing could help Oracle with apps like the wireless telco product catalog deal MongoDB got.

Going back to the Endeca-post quote well, Endeca itself said:

Inside the MDEX Engine there is no overarching schema; each data record carries its own metadata. This enables the rapid combination of a wide range of structured and unstructured content into Latitude’s unified data model. Once inside, the MDEX Engine derives common dimensions and metrics from the available metadata, instantly exposing each for high-performance refinement and analysis in the Discovery Framework. Have a new data source? Simply add it and the MDEX Engine will create new relationships where possible. Changes in source data schema? No problem, adjustments on the fly are easy.

And I pointed out that the MDEX engine was a columnar DBMS.

Meanwhile, Oracle’s own columnar DBMS efforts have been disappointing. Endeca could be an intended answer to that. However, while Oracle’s track record with standalone DBMS acquisitions is admirable (DEC RDB, MySQL, etc.), Oracle’s track record of integrating DBMS acquisitions into the Oracle product itself is not so good. (Express? Essbase? The text product line? None of that has gone particularly well.)

So while I would expect Endeca’s flagship e-commerce shopping engine products to flourish under Oracle’s ownership, I would be cautious about the integration of Endeca’s core technology into the Oracle product line.

April 18, 2011

Endeca topics

I visited my then-clients at Endeca in January. We focused on underpinnings (and strategic counsel) more than on coolness in what the product actually does. But going over my notes I think there’s enough to write up now.

Before saying much else about Endeca, there’s one confusion to dispose of: What’s the relationship between Endeca’s efforts in e-commerce (helping shoppers navigate websites) and business intelligence (helping people navigate their own data)? As Endeca tells it:

Endeca’s positioning in the business intelligence market boils down to “investigative analytics for people who aren’t hardcore analysts.” Endeca’s technological support for that stresses:  Read more

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