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One Startup Takes the Complexity Out of Big Data for Enterprise IT Specialists

There has been much in the technology media about “Big Data” lately, and there is no question that Big Data is one of the major trends fundamentally altering the IT industry. One of the perceived challenges with Big Data solutions however, is that it is very complex, and that companies need to recruit data scientists or Analytics PhD's to to be able to implement Big Data in the enterprise.

There has been much in the technology media about “Big Data” lately, and there is no question that Big Data is one of the major trends fundamentally altering the IT industry. One of the perceived challenges with Big Data solutions however, is that it is very complex, and that companies need to recruit data scientists or Analytics PhD's to to be able to implement Big Data in the enterprise. Likewise, many firms may look at the costs of Big Data implementation – particularly the hardware required – and conclude that they cannot afford a Big Data program.

One startup that is dedicated to solving these two problems is SiSense, who have developed what they call an “In-Chip Analytics” capability that focuses on making Big Data implementation simple and cost effective. As part of IT Specialist's series of profiles on startups with new solutions or technology which we feel could be of interest to IT professionals, we are pleased to introduce SiSense.  Joining us today is SiSense's VP of Marketing Bruno Aziza who has kindly taken the time to answer some of our questions.

IT Specialist: Thanks for joining us today Bruno. To start with, can you provide some brief background on SiSense such as what year you were started, where you are from and who are SiSense's founders and their inspiration for starting SiSense?

Bruno: SiSense is the Big Data Analytics Company.  Our product, Prism, is in production in over 49 countries and we work with some of the world’s most innovative companies such as Target, Merck, NASA, ESPN, Uber and many others.   We officially launched our product last October and since then have received incredible market reception from winning Strata Big Data Conference’s “Audience Award” to being named Top Big Data Analytics Startup this past week by CIO Magazine and “Top App to Try” by Inc. Magazine.

IT Specialist: Can you provide a high level overview of the SiSense mission and value proposition, and how Enterprise IT Specialists and data analysts - who of course are our primary audience - can benefit from using your solution? 

Bruno: Our mission is to become the world’s easiest big data analytics solution.  To gain insights from growing datasets, companies have to buy expensive hardware, hire armies of scientists and integrate complicated software between database technologies and visualization tools.  The industry has lived with this model for decades and the results are abysmal. 

Our product is the industry’s first all-in-one solution for Big Data Analytics.  In one package, the solution contains a high-performance database, ETL capabilities and visualizations.  It can be procured online and licensed on a subscription basis - which makes it easier for anyone to get started quickly.

Prism “In-Chip Analytics” capabilities introduce unique technological breakthrough to let normal people (not “PhD in Analytics”) work with terabyte range datasets at very high speed without having to buy expensive hardware: our solution works on standard commodity hardware.

Simply put:  with SiSense, IT gets started faster because of our low requirements.  Business gets to results faster because our integrated and user-friendly approach.  Both can scale indefinitely because of the way we turn commodity hardware into “data monsters”.

IT Specialist: The majority of the discussion around Big Data is all about using Hadoop for massive petabyte-level data sets that data scientists or other technical people can then query afterwards. As I gather, however, one of SiSense's core missions is to provide this type of enterprise-class Big Data analytic capabilities to smaller enterprises?

Bruno: We have lots of customers and they are in all market segments – medium, large and very large! I think people get confused when we talk about Hadoop and analytics.  Hadoop is absolutely great for processing petabyte range datasets in a non-real-time environment.  Yet, when you look at the ‘sweet spot’ for big data analytics, you’ll find that we are talking “terabyte-range”.  At the terabyte range, technology like ours – In-Chip Analytics” – runs the best performance you can get on single node.   This is true for companies of all size.

IT Specialist: Can you give us a high level overview of how SiSense brings this BI capability to users. What really struck me is that your software can actually be loaded on a PC or off the shelf server and can then be used by people with little or no BI or Big data experience. My first reaction was wow, that's a really powerful tool for the average person, but some might also wonder if a PC with only 4Gb or 8GB of RAM actually has the processing power to analyze large data sets. What makes this actually work - is it that SiSense's software is targeted at analyzing smaller amount of data then Hadoop, or is there also something intrinsic to product that allows it to work even on a 8GB RAM PC?

Bruno: I think you referring to one of the demonstrations we did when we used a commodity laptop to showcase how much we could use of such a ridiculously small machine.  We don’t recommend companies deploy their solution on a small laptop.  But, what we wanted to prove was that you don’t need proprietary, complex and expensive hardware to work with large amounts of data, quickly. 

The key to our innovation is something called “In-Chip Analytics”, a set of analytical techniques that use the full machine CPU architecture – from disk to RAM to CPU’s L1 cache – to return the best performance on commodity hardware, always.

When it comes to making this technology easy to purchase and deploy – I’ll point to three particularities in SiSense:  1) we are an all-in-one solution so customers buy one package with everything they need in it.  2) we are a subscription-based model so it’s easy to buy and continuously benefit from new features 3) our entire suite, even the database, is drag-and-drop and point-and-click, which helps any employee succeed quickly.

IT Specialist: Bruno, is SiSense at all concerned that the Big Data industry is largely going one direction - using Hadoop combined with a Big Data appliance from vendors such as EMC or IBM - while SiSense has chosen a completely different model? Have any of your customers queried you on this approach or indicated concern? Well, of course they wouldn't be customers of your's if they did not feel like your product was a fit, but have you dealt with any challenging questions from your user-base regarding how or why SiSense has chosen to go in a different direction:

Bruno:To be clear – we don’t compete with Hadoop.  In fact, we have a connector to Hadoop.  We work with customers that have mixed environments – Hadoop and non-Hadoop.   There is a large market composed by organizations who struggle to get insights from their data – regardless where it’s stored.  In our case, we want to be inclusive to as many technologies as possible – that’s why we can, for instance, connect to over 80% of the world’s data, including Hadoop.

IT Specialist: Could you highlight the major features and differentiators of your core Prism product? For example, how easy is the user interface to work with for IT Specialists, and how customizable and extendable to Prism?

Bruno: Our secret sauce is the ‘In-Chip analytics’ technology embedded at the core of our database: it’s is a revolutionary approach and it is two generations ahead of the available in-memory solutions. 

SiSense’s In-Chip Analytics technology is optimized around modern CPU architecture.  While other technologies solely rely on RAM or on Disk, SiSense uses the CPU, RAM and Disk and decides, in real-time how to best use machine capacity to its fullest to store and access more data faster.  Using SiSense Prism, customers can analyze terabytes upon terabytes of data on standard commodity machines, and avoid the cost and complexity involved with buying expensive hardware to support their growth.  On the same machine, they can analyze 100X more data than RAM based in-memory solutions, 10X faster.

You also bring another great point on extensibility.  Prism is built on the latest technology stack the industry offers.  Our database can be queried directly beyond our visualization layer via http.  Similarly, our visualization layer is built using HTML5.  It’s open and fully extensible with D3 and Javascript.

IT Specialist: Could you list some of the types of data sets customers which with someone would use Prism - for example, Salesforce or Oracle etc.? Maybe without naming the customer, would you be able to provide a real life situation of how Prism was used and what data sets were analyzed? 

Bruno:  You can see a lot of scenarios on our customer reference page.  Take a look at how Target uses SiSense for fraud prevention for example.  Their scenario is a very typical: multiple data sources, incredible volume growth and a visibility that’s required across all systems – either to get 360 views, establish correlation, understand causality or build predictive models. 

Another example can be “lead to cash” visibility needs.  For instance, imagine that your company spends money on Google Adwords, that you want to establish how many of those leads turn into opportunities (in Salesforce).  SiSense Prism can help you there.  Even further, imagine that you want to understand which customers are the most profitable customers from beginning to end (from Adwords to Zendesk).  Prism can help you with that too.

The opportunities are quite unlimited and scenarios are endless.  If you want to get inspirations beyond what existing customers already do with SiSense, I suggest you check out our sample page here.

IT Specialist: How has your traction been in the in the market to date, and are there any examples of partners or customers that you could share with us? I also recall reading that you recently closed a Series B round?

Bruno:We are very pleased with market recognition.  TechCrunch said we “make analytics dead simple” and Wall Street Journal wrote that we are “creating something of a stir in the world of BI”.  This past month alone, we have been recognized as the Top Big Data Analytics Company by CIO Magazine and Top App To Try by Inc Magazine.

From a traction standpoint, we grew by 520% this past year and we recently concluded a $10M financing round led by Battery Venture, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest Venture Capital firms.

IT Specialist: For Enterprise IT Specialists who may be interested in working with SiSense and/or want to do a trial within their organization, what is the best way to interface with you?

Bruno:The best way is to go to http://pages.sisense.com/prism_free_trial.html - we offer a free trial and are happy to help prospects and customers online or on the phone.  We have one of the most responsive teams in the market and we will make sure that every prospect gets the best treatment they deserve!

IT Specialist: Finally Bruno, are there any future plans or particular new initiatives that you might want to share with us?

Bruno: Yes – lots!  We are always shipping new offers.  This past week, we rolled out a Hybrid Cloud offer with Rackspace and a lot more is coming.  People that are interested in staying in touch should do at least sign up for our blog and join our company page on linkedin here.

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