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November 13, 2018

Cloud Data Warehouse Gets New Analytics Interface

Analytics interface vendors continue to offer easy-to-use tools designed to allow more business users to query data, especially data increasingly stored in a growing number of cloud data warehouses. Among the goals is simplifying business intelligence to accelerate access to cloud data.

Comes now a “spreadsheet-like visual interface” from Sigma Computing promoted as allowing business users to analyze data directly without SQL or BI tool proficiency. The business intelligence startup said this week its visual interface moves beyond a dashboard view of data to provide interactive access to Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Snowflake and other cloud data warehouses.

“Dashboards do not equal data or intelligence,” asserted Rob Woollen, CEO and co-founder of San Francisco-based Sigma Computing.

The new analytics interface is web browser-based, connecting directly with “fresh” data in cloud data warehouses. Data can then be accessed from multiple sources and then “shaped” with the visual interface as the application creates SQL in the background in real-time, the company said.

The startup promises 99-percent SQL functionality, thereby eliminating the need to writing complex queries by hand. Along with access to a range of data sets, including semi-structured JSON data, the interface is pitched as building complex queries without SQL technical skills.

The analytics tool for cloud data is available now, Sigma Computing announced on Tuesday (Nov. 13).

The startup has hitched its wagon to the hosted data warehousing vendor Snowflake Computing, which completed a $450 million venture funding round in October. (Sigma Computing has separately raised $28 million in two funding rounds.)

Sigma Computing was founded in 2014 by Woollen and Jason Frantz while both worked with lead investor Sutter Hill Ventures. Working with Mike Speiser, a Sutter Hill managing director and former CEO of Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) and Snowflake, the partners targeted the evolution of BI tools as the cloud data warehouse sector took off.

Separately this week, Snowflake announced the availability of a pair of performance features intended to boost query performance by automating clustering and what the company dubs “materialized” views. The former is designed to automate the re-clustering of data and the configuration of data storage; the latter is used to boost the performance of queries containing similar results while automatically adding new or modified data.

These and other tools reflect the explosive growth of the cloud data warehouse market since Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) launched Redshift in 2012. Snowflake has grown quickly thanks to the ease-of-use, high performance, and low cost of its SQL-based offering. Google Cloud’s BigQuery, meanwhile, was cited by market tracker Forrester for its integration with AI and other data services. Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) also landed in the leader’s category of the Forrester industry survey with its new Autonomous Data Warehouse.

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