As data storage costs plummet, the world is storing data that would be impractical to keep just a few years ago. Think video camera feeds, web logs and GPS tracking information. We used to throw away or sample this data, but now we can store and explore it. In the network forensics market, for example, Solera Systems will store a history—a la Tivo—of all of a company’s network traffic. If the company is hacked, then they can actually recreate what happened. But cheaper and denser disks are only part of the solution. The rest of the answer comes from new approaches to harnessing this data as the last generation database and business intelligence (BI) solutions fail at the Big Data scale.
Internet companies saw this problem coming and invested in their own solutions. Google built MapReduce for its internal use to store and analyze data at massive scale. Hadoop then emerged from the open source community and is now used by Yahoo, Facebook, and eBay, and is spreading into leading finance and telco companies.
But even as Hadoop is fast becoming the de-facto data management platform for Big Data, it remains a low-level infrastructure tool incapable of being helped by traditional BI products – which can’t scale effectively – and isn’t intuitive enough for the average business user.
Our newest investment, Platfora, is aiming to overcome these issues. Here’s why we’re so excited about the company:
- Incredibly strong founding team. Platfora founder and CEO Ben Werther was the head of product at Greenplum where he witnessed firsthand customer frustrations with analyzing Big Data (read more from Ben here). He has hired an amazing technical team with strong domain experience in Big Data and analytics.
- As Hadoop gains adoption, it will need a robust BI platform that can make it accessible to the mainstream. The legacy BI vendors don’t have the product architecture for Hadoop or Big Data and we believe this opens the door for a new franchise to be built.
- One barrier to Hadoop adoption is the difficulty of getting at the data. Platfora makes it easy for business users to leverage Big Data, and this may dramatically accelerate Hadoop adoption to the benefit of the whole ecosystem.
- The team has a heavy user interface and user experience ethos. They are hiring a consumer-esque UI/UX team and partnered with Cooper, a well-known strategic user experience design firm, at the outset.
Platfora’s breakthrough is a combination of server technology, user experience innovation and data science. Read more here about how the platform works with existing Hadoop clusters to generate easy-to-understand dashboards, reports and insights.
We’re excited at Andreessen Horowitz to lead a $5.68 million Series A financing for Platfora, based in Palo Alto, Calif. Also investing in the round is In-Q-Tel, the independent strategic investment firm that identifies innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the U.S. intelligence community. While Platfora is primarily focused on commercial customers, U.S. intelligence agencies can benefit greatly from the power of Hadoop and IQT sees enormous need for the product that Platfora is building.
I am excited to be joining the Platfora board and can’t wait to help Ben and his team build a huge business.