Navigating Data: Alation + Trifacta

Satyen Sangani
Satyen Sangani CEO

I’m excited to announce an expansion of our partnership with Trifacta.

If you’re someone interested in where the BI/Analytics industry is going, a CIO/CDO trying to pick the stack for your BI/Analytics investments, or if you’re an analyst just trying to figure out which tool is most relevant for your needs, here’s why I think this news is important:

You could frame most technological innovations in terms of democratizing access.

  • Publishing used to be the province of big newspapers. With blogs, anyone can now write and distribute an article and with message boards anyone can post an advertisement.  However, the casualty is the trust and consistency that comes with editorial oversight.
  • Videos used to require expensive cameras and large scale studios or television networks.  Now you have iPhones and YouTube. Again, you lose the filter that comes with central casting.
  • Business Intelligence used to require months of effort from BI and ETL teams. Today, you have Tableau, empowering any analyst to create a report. But you lose the quality and consistency that comes with a central semantic layer.

More recently, we’ve seen Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tools like Informatica and IBM Datastage disrupted by self-service data preparation tools. This makes sense. Given the explosion of data, the explosion of tools, and the massive demand for data, there’s no way that IT could keep up with the massive demands for clean, prepared data. The industry had to find a way to empower more people to manipulate and move data in a simple, sophisticated way.

Today, any data scientist, business analyst or business person can use Trifacta to transform, prepare, and move data. As with business intelligence, there was a casualty in the move from central control (IT) to self-service (Analysts and Data Scientists).

First, there is no easy way to find the data you want to prepare. Whether using Tableau, Informatica, Excel, MicroStrategy, Hadoop or Teradata to store or prepare data, data is all over the place. What if someone has already prepared the data you need and it exists in the form of a MicroStrategy report?  What if you know the asset exists, but don’t know where to find it?  What if there are nine assets (three existing reports, two raw JSON flles, and four relational tables) required for the prep work and you only have the JSON file to start with?

Second, preparation requires understanding of the data and the standards in your company. If you’re going to transform ‘California’ to ‘CA,’  you’d better be sure that CA isn’t more commonly understood in your company to be ‘Canada.’  You used to be able to get those standards from your colleague in the BI/ETL team. Today, however, the gal that knows the data could be half-way around the world.

The Alation – Trifacta integration, based on open APIs, solves these problems:

Inside of Trifacta, you can start with two JSON files, search in Alation for both relational tables, data in Hadoop, and finally the output of reports in MicroStrategy, select the files, and then work directly on the same data inside of Trifacta.  The experience is seamless.  There are no breaks.

Similarly, inside of Alation, let’s say you discover some data that you want to prep.  You simply have to find the data, select Trifacta, and boom, you’re ready to wrangle.

So again, the new order has replaced the old guard. Simply put, you get all of the power of a traditional ETL tool supplemented by massively increased productivity through ease-of-use, ease and depth of discovery, and quicker time-to-insight.

Most importantly, this integration is not based on some aspirational architecture.  Companies like eBay, MarketShare, and Munich Re have all selected the combination of Alation and Trifacta to support their big data initiatives. We’re excited about the journey ahead with Trifacta and these customers. You should expect more news to come.

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