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October 30, 2013

Top Three Big Data Startups at Strata

Alex Woodie

There are hundreds of vendors exhibiting at the Strata + Hadoop World conference in New York City this week. Some of them have big names, like Cloudera, IBM, and Oracle. But there are also dozens of startups vying for a slice of the big data pie. Luckily for us, the conference convened a panel of experts to rate the most promising three.

Taking top honors in the Startup Showcase event at Strata + Hadoop World is Metric Insights, a 2010 startup based in San Francisco. The company advocates what it calls “Push Intelligence” to simplify the analytic process and to allow users to make better and more informed decisions.

The use of dashboards, reports, and spreadsheets have gotten out of hand in this country, Metric Insights says. In fact, companies are generating so many data consumables today that it’s contributing to information overload and hurting decision-making processes, it says.

Instead of continually spamming users with loads of useless informational “noise,” Metric Insights promotes a selective “less is more” approach to big data analytics. Its Push Intelligence offering is designed to alert key group of users of the availability of new or changing key performance indicators (KPIs) on certain topics they find useful. This approach bypasses the information overload problem by presenting less information, but adding more context to it. The idea is to help users focus on the signal and ignore the noise.

The personalization and collaboration aspects of Push Intelligence look to be additional factors playing in Metric Insights’ favor. Users can choose which KPIs (generated from various data warehouses and analytics systems) they want to view, and “subscribe” to them, much like they would “like” something on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. Users can also annotate their KPIs, and share them with others.

Metric Insights delivers KPIs from data in a variety of analytics systems.

Metric Insights CEO Marius Moscovici said he was honored to win the award. “Big data provides a unique opportunity for businesses to become truly data driven, but the existing dashboard approach to data is broken,” he stated in an announcement. “Users are drowning in dashboards and have no chance of finding what’s important to them.  Here at Metric Insights we are solving that problem with a personal approach to data, empowering business users to know when the metrics they care about are changing, and why.”

Second and Third Place

Taking second place in the Startup Showcase is Appuri, which was founded by former Microsoft employees in 2012. The company provides a cloud-based data warehouse designed for real-time event processing and Web services, at big data scale.

Appuri’s data warehouse lives in the Amazon Redshift cloud and can scale beyond 1PB, the company says on its website. Customers can stream data into their Redshift cloud warehouse using basic HTTP POST commands, or a series of connectors for common internal and external data sources.

The software sports a “smart ETL pipeline” that can capture hundreds of millions of events per day, the company says. Once in the warehouse, Appuri automatically schematizes the data from events. It exposes an API to customers that allows them to perform stream processing on the data as its hits the warehouse. Customers can interact with the data using SQL or front-end tools, such as Tableau.

Appuri’s data pipeline extends from internal systems to external cloud-based systems.

Appuri CEO Damon Danielli, who worked at Microsoft for 14 years, said in a 2012 media interview that the company was “bootstrapped” by four colleagues and has received no outside funding. It has, however, signed a couple of big customers, including media giants HBO and Activision, so venture capitalists may be knocking at its door in the Pacific Northwest pretty soon.

A company called Affinio took third place in the Strata Startup competition. Developers at the Halifax, Nova Scotia software company created a graph engine designed to provide very high I/O throughputs when run on servers equipped with solid state drives (SSDs).

According to the company’s website, the Affinio graph engine consists of a three components, including a proprietary NoSQL layer, a local embedded processing layer (like co-processors), and an API layer. The processing layer provides functions such as collaborative filtering, triangle counting, and shortest path analysis, while the API can be accessed by Web applications.

The company, which is headed by CEO Tim Burke and CTO Stephan Hankinson, used the Strata + Hadoop World summit as a platform to unveil an application based on the Affinio graph engine. Affinio describes its Tactics Cloud offering as “a social network insights platform” for use by marketing, advertising, and sales teams.

The beta for Tactics Cloud will start next month. Affinio also announced $1.5 million in funding by Build Ventures, a $50M early stage venture capital based in Halifax.

Big data security startup Sqrrl nabbed the “audience choice” award at the Startup Showcase. You can read our own Isaac Lopez’s recent profile on Sqrrl here.

Metric Insights, Appuri, Affinio, and Sqrrl went up against a number of other startups at Strata, including Alpine Data Labs, Datapad, Fortscale, Hazelcast, Inovae inc., JethroData, Mevoked, PlaceIQ, and WebKite. Undoubtedly this is not the last you’ll hear from these vendors.

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