NEW YORK: Platfora, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed “big data” startup, unveiled the product it has been baking for over a year at the Strata conference today.

The Silicon Valley-based company publicly launched its technology that crunches raw data in Hadoop, the open source framework, and turns it into intelligence for business users.

For years, data was contained in structured columns and rows, and stored in relational databases. Today, companies are dealing with large volumes of unwieldy data. Every big data startup worth its salt will tell you that once it’s processed, this unstructured data contains potentially valuable insights.

Above: Ben Werther, Platfora’s CEO

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In a phone interview, Ben Werther, Platfora’s CEO, made a similar case: “Businesses want to know if they can derive business intelligence from Hadoop [and] the answer is yes.” Werther told me that the startup’s first customers (there are 10 companies signed on to the beta) are struggling to manage petabytes of corporate data in the form of texts, emails, reports and so on.

He explained that Hadoop is a feasible solution but can only really be of use to a small cadre of developers. “We want to make it possible for everyday business users to interact, analyse, and drive Hadoop,” he said.

Werther says it’s the speed of deployment that makes Platfora unique. “People can visualize and ask questions about data within hours,” he said. “There is no six month cycle time to make Hadoop amazing.” In addition, there is an analytics component; users can visualize the data on an HTML interface.

Werther claims that the closest competitor is the “status quo” — the companies that still rely on traditional data warehouses. However, there are a number of other startups that claim to bring Hadoop straight to your desktop, including Datameer and Karmasphere.

Platfora has over $12 million in first-round venture funding in the bank from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture wing, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sutter Hill Ventures.


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