Startup eases Hadoop complexity via spreadsheet interface

Datameer joins a growing crop of companies finding simpler ways for business analysts to use the open source data-processing framework

A startup called Datameer is offering a simpler way for business analysts to use Hadoop, the open source framework for large-scale data processing on clusters of commodity hardware.

The Datameer Analytics Solution (DAS), now in beta, features a spreadsheet-style interface; a wizard tool for pulling in data from sources such as relational databases, log files, and clickstreams; visualization widgets for building reports; and the ability to export results to third-party BI (business intelligence) software packages.

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DAS is meant to harness Hadoop's strengths, such as scalability and reliability, while mitigating complexity and easing the burden on IT by allowing business users to serve themselves, according to Datameer.

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Datameer spent ample time working on the user interface "to hide all the difficult things," but millions of business users are already familiar with spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, further cutting the amount of training required to use DAS, said CTO Stefan Groschupf.

The product will most commonly be installed on-premises in a company's private data center, he said. Datameer also has a partnership with Amazon Web Services, but doesn't see cloud-based deployments as its main business model.

DAS is available via subscription at $1,000 per server per month, or perpetual licenses at roughly three times that cost plus support. There is no limit on the number of users or usage. The product will be generally available in September.

"For early-stage exploration on large data sets, this product design makes considerable sense," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research.

Datameer has competition from other startups selling Hadoop-related tools and services, such as Cloudera and Karmasphere.

The challenge for companies like Datameer may be that while many enterprises want to perform large-scale data analysis, only a relative few might find approaches other than Hadoop insufficient, Monash said.

But Datameer is confident that market demand for Hadoop is growing, pointing to a steady rise in Hadoop-related job postings in recent months.

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