The year of the data catalog

Chitra Rakesh
Chitra Rakesh

This was an eventful year in the world of data and analytics. Be it the surprising $5.2 billion merger of Cloudera and Hortonworks, the widely scrutinized GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), or the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rocked Facebook. Amid the headline grabbing news, 2018 will also be remembered as the year of the data catalog.

As more and more organizations move towards self-service to create value from the sheer volume of data at their disposal, data catalogs have emerged as the operating system for the modern data platform. Key analyst firms like Forrester, Gartner, and 451 Research have cited “soaring demands from data catalogs”, pondered whether data catalogs are the “most important breakthrough in analytics to have emerged in the last decade,” and heralded the arrival of a brand new market: Machine Learning Data Catalogs.

At Alation, 2018 was a banner year with incredible adoption, including new customers like American Family Insurance, BMW, Daimler, Munich Re, and Pepsico. This year also saw the launch of RevAlation, the first user community conference focused on data catalogs, an impressive world tour, and an unprecedented set of accolades.

Check out our recap of all that went down in the world of data catalogs!

RevAlation: Where curiosity meets curation

We launched RevAlation this October. RevAlation is industry’s first user community conference series focused on data catalog initiatives.

Alation Customer Event| RevAlation: Where curiosity meets curation
“From the very beginning, our customers have been our greatest source of discovery, feedback, and inspiration. With RevAlation, we are gathering a community built on shared curiosity around data and analytics and providing them with the ability to meet that curiosity with curated discovery,” said Satyen Sangani, our CEO and co-founder.

After a great first show in Redwood City, our home turf, we took RevAlation to London, Chicago, and Boston. At each event, data catalog champions from innovative companies like Commonwealth Edison, Hilton Worldwide, and Scout24 gathered in an intimate setting to share best practices, discuss challenges, and learn from one another.


Stephanie McReynolds, Alation’s VP of Marketing talks to theCUBE about RevAlation

The attendees couldn’t stop raving about the exclusive content, research findings, and the unconventional venues that included Churchill War Rooms, the nerve centre where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War, and the Museum of Science in Boston, one of the world’s largest science centers.

And in January, RevAlation returns to the Bay Area for a day of learning among the copper brewers of the historic Anchor Brewing Company.

The MLDC World Tour

Who says you can’t rock and roll with data? From London to San Francisco, our MLDC World Tour brought a little bit of rock and roll to the tech world. Be it the stellar customer and analyst sessions at Tableau Conference in New Orleans or Forrester Data Strategy & Insights 2018 in Orlando, or the professional grade, bullet proof Alation Arena of robots at Strata Data Conference in New York or the Teradata Analytics Universe in Las Vegas, our rockstar avatar didn’t fail to impress. The inspiration came from Gartner and Forrester’s ground-breaking research on the emergence of data catalogs.

According to Gartner’s report Data Catalogs Are the New Black in Data Management and Analytics1, “Demand for data catalogs is soaring as organizations struggle to inventory distributed data assets to facilitate data monetization and conform to regulations.”

The “MLDC” part of the MLDC World Tour was inspired by the inaugural Forrester Wave™: Machine Learning Data Catalogs2 research. Forrester put a stamp on machine learning data catalogs by calling it a category of its own and credited Alation for starting and leading the MLDC trend.

“Clients considering Alation will find a strong MLDC to help understand and make sense of the vast sources that exist on-premises, in the cloud, and across their legacy and modern systems,” noted Michele Goetz, principal analyst at Forrester. “Enterprises are… turning to data catalogs to democratize access to data, enable tribal data knowledge to curate information, apply data policies, and activate all data for business value quickly.”

With a nod from the analyst community, we channeled the spirit of AC/DC3and their iconic album, Back in Black, and set out on our very own data tour.

And, the accolades just kept pouring in!

It kept raining laurels and recognition all year long so much so that we had to issue a weather alert. Besides, Gartner’s ‘Data Catalogs are the New Black’ and the Forrester Wave™, 2018 was full of recognition for data catalogs and the Alation Data Catalog. Below are some of our other favorites. Enjoy!

Gartner: Magic Quadrant for Metadata Management Solutions

Gartner: Magic Quadrant for Metadata Management Solutions

For the second year in a row, Alation was named a Leader in Gartner’s ‏Magic Quadrant for Metadata Management Solutions4 based on its ability to execute and completeness of vision. Now that’s twice as nice, isn’t it?

Today, metadata management has become a critical business driver as data leaders seek to govern and maximize the value from the influx of data at their disposal. Gone are the days of static metadata repositories that required domain expertise and manual curation. Industry leaders like General Electric, Munich Re and Pfizer are turning to self-service analytics and modern data governance. They are leveraging data catalogs as a foundation to automatically analyze technical and business metadata, at speed and scale.

“By 2020, most data and analytics use cases will require connecting to distributed data sources, leading enterprises to double their investments in metadata management,” according to Gartner’s research report. “Alation has been a leading player in this market since its entry into it with data catalogs, and is known for its data cataloging capabilities.”

451 Research: From out of nowhere: the unstoppable rise of the data catalog

Analyst Report 451 From Out of Nowhere

451 Research, the New York based analyst firm that focuses on enterprise IT innovation within emerging tech segments, published comprehensive research reports that examine the growing adoption and evolving data management capabilities of Alation’s data catalog.

In his research report, From out of nowhere: the unstoppable rise of the data catalog5, Analyst Matt Aslett makes a strong case for data catalog adoption calling it the “most important data management breakthrough to have emerged in the last decade.”

He further notes, “Data catalogs have become key components of data governance, master data management, self-service analytics and self-service data preparation offerings… They also help support the identification and discovery of data to fuel machine learning and other data science projects.”

In another research report, Alation rises amid expanded data catalog adoption and partnerships6, Aslett says, “Alation is bringing new tools and techniques to information and metadata management, inspired in part by the likes of Google, and is zeroing in on a maturing understanding of its role and potential use cases… We are noting growing adoption of more agile approaches to data stewardship, which Alation is well-placed to benefit from.”

Dresner Advisory Services: The 2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study

Dresner Advisory Services: The 2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study

It is only wise to go with the wisdom of the crowds. For the second year in a row, Dresner Advisory Services’ Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study7 named Alation as the top-ranked data cataloging solution.

The research report highlights the growing importance of data cataloging for helping organizations of all sizes find the data that is needed for successful business intelligence (BI) outcomes. It emerged that the harder it is to find content, the higher the likelihood that BI initiatives will not be successful.

“We congratulate Alation on earning the leading position in our market study on data catalogs for the second year in a row,” said Howard Dresner, president, founder and chief research officer, Dresner Advisory Services. “Data catalogs are proving to be key to the success of business intelligence efforts and important pieces of a enterprises overall data governance strategy.”

Ventana Research’s 2018 Digital Innovation Award for Big Data

Ventana Research’s 2018 Digital Innovation Award for Big Data

In November 2018, Alation’s TrustCheck technology received the Ventana Research’s 2018 Digital Innovation Award for Big Data8. The award recognizes a technology that best exemplifies innovation in big data.

“With the release of TrustCheck, we’re bringing policy, quality and usage context directly to the end user. TrustCheck lets every self-service analytics user instantly know whether the data or query logic selected is trustworthy and appropriate, irrespective of whether that data lives in Salesforce, Tableau, or is being accessed directly from a database,” said our CEO Satyen Sangani.

With features for real-time data governance and agile information stewardship, TrustCheck surfaces visual cues in the natural workflow of self-service analytics users.

We’re looking forward to 2019

Every indicator points towards the growing importance of data catalogs for enabling modern analytics architecture. In fact, this December marked six years of our incorporation. We celebrated Alation Day in three continents with more than 150 Alationauts. And, as our CEO puts it, “From humble beginnings to fast and furious milestones, we couldn’t be more grateful.” Come experience the Alation data magic with us. The coming year promises more greatness!

1Gartner “Data Catalogs Are the New Black in Data Management and Analytics” by Ehtisham Zaidi, Guido De Simoni, Roxane Edjlali, Alan D. Duncan, December 13, 2017
2 The Forrester WaveTM: Machine Learning Data Catalogs, Q2 2018, The 12 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up by Michele Goetz with Gene Leganza, Elizabeth Hoberman, and Kara Hartig
3 AC/DC, the Australian Rock Band: Wikipedia
4Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Metadata Management Solutions” by Guido De Simoni, Alan Dayley, Roxane Edjlali, August 9, 2018
5 451 Research: From out of nowhere: the unstoppable rise of the data catalog by Matt Aslett
6 451 Research: Alation rises amid expanded data catalog adoption and partnerships by Matt Aslett
7 Dresner Advisory Services: The 2018 Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study by Howard Dresner and Bill Hostmann
8 Ventana Research Unveils the Digital Innovation Award Winners for 2018 by Mark Smith

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