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Alteryx software targets Amazon big data

The latest Alteryx analytics engine gets enterprises close to Amazon big data, with nods to spreadsheet aficionados and R language.

Alteryx Inc. has released software that expands data integration and analytics capabilities to support scalable, in-database work for important data types in the new data arena. Amazon big data is a target of the new software, as are Cloudera Impala, Apache Spark and Teradata data systems.

For an analytics engine like Alteryx's, the drive these days is to get nearer to the data that must be processed, according to George Mathew, COO and president of Alteryx, based in Irvine, Calif. 

"As the data becomes larger and larger, we want to support the ability to keep the analytics close to the data," he said. Once such place is the Amazon cloud; it continues to gain new users for its Redshift cloud data warehouse services, and so marks a key step for Alteryx.

Engine targets spreadsheet jocks

The new Alteryx Analytics 10.0 is intended for use by a variety of individuals within an organization. To this end, it implements an analytical workflow architecture that lets data analysts integrate data feeds using a visual interface. With the software's latest release, data jobs within an Alteryx analytic workflow can take Amazon big data and execute it using various services in the AWS cloud.

The workflow interface helps data analysts who, Mathew claimed, have been disenfranchised somewhat in recent years, as their cherished spreadsheet interfaces ran up against memory issues.

He said that incoming data floods tested spreadsheet systems' limits. With Alteyrx 10.0, he said, the company attempted to provide a more scalable data processing engine, while making the workflow interface more adaptable for spreadsheet users.

Just say 'R'

Users interacting with the platform can take samples of data and try out functions, Mathew said, before committing to full runs. Using the visual workflow interface, users can follow process steps for "data blending" -- integrating, for example, social media data and Redshift -- data cleansing and predictive statistical modeling.

Alteryx Analytics 10.0 makes provisions for the increasingly popular R analytics language.

Founded in 2010, Alteryx counts Kroger, Levis, Cardinal Health and others among its customers. Among Alteryx's competitors are startups Paxata, Tamr and Trifacta.

Like its competitors, Alteryx looks to support a variety of popular data platforms. The new AWS capabilities are in addition to support for Oracle and Microsoft databases that came with Alteryx Analytics 9.0.

Notably, the latest release makes provisions for the increasingly popular R analytics language, according to Mathew. The language seems to have potential as a complementary tool to spreadsheets, as Excel spreadsheet maker Microsoft in effect admitted with its purchase earlier this year of R specialist Revolution Analytics. For his part, Mathew said the software allows predictive analytics at petabyte scale, with in-database support for Oracle R. Support for Spark R, which Alteryx announced earlier this summer, will be enhanced with additional machine learning libraries, due with an October update to Version 10.

Mathew sees the latest release as part of a trend that puts modern big data analytics in the hands of data and business analysts. That is different than in the past, when specialist needed to work with the new data frameworks.

"Software like Hadoop and Spark has enabled us to do more things with semi-structured and unstructured data at greater speed and at lower cost," he said. But now, he added, software such as Alteryx's makes the frameworks available to nonprogrammers.

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