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On Hadoop and Big Data. Interview with Lawrence Schwartz

by Roberto V. Zicari on August 19, 2015

“The best way to define Big Data ROI is to look at how our customers define it and benefit from Hadoop.
Wellcare has been able to improve its query speeds from 30 days to just 7 days. This acceleration enabled the Company to increase its analytics and operational reporting by 73%.”–Lawrence Schwartz

I have interviewed Lawrence Schwartz, Chief Marketing Officer,Attunity.


Q1. What are the common challenges that enterprises face when trying to use Hadoop?

Lawrence Schwartz: The advent of Hadoop and Big Data has significantly changed the way organizations handle data. There’s a need now for new skills, new organizational processes, new strategies and technologies to adapt to the new playing field. It’s a change that permeates everywhere from how you touch the data, to how much you can support resource-wise and architecturally, to how you manage it and use it to stay competitive. Hadoop itself presents two primary challenges. First, the data has to come from somewhere. Enterprises must efficiently load high volumes of widely-varied data in a timely fashion. We can help with software that enables automated bulk loading into Hadoop without manual coding, and change data capture for efficient updates. The second challenge is finding engineers and Data Scientists with the right skills to exploit Hadoop. Talent is scarce in this area.

Q2. Could you give us some examples of how your customers use Hadoop for their businesses?

Lawrence Schwartz: We have an interesting range of customers using Hadoop, so I’ll provide three examples. One major cable provider we are working with uses Hadoop as a data lake. They are integrating feeds from 200 data stores into Pivotal HD. This data lake includes fresh enterprise data – fed in real-time, not just as an archival area – to run up-to-date reporting and analytics without hitting key transactional systems. This enables them to improve decision support and gain competitive advantage.

Another example of how our customers are using Hadoop highlights a Fortune 50 high technology manufacturer. This customer’s business analytics requirements were growing exponentially, straining IT resources, systems and budgets. 
The company selected Attunity Visibility to help it better understand its enterprise-wide data usage analytics across its various data platforms.
Having this capability enables the company to optimize business performance and maximize its investment in its Hadoop, data warehouse and business analytics systems. Attunity Visibility has helped to improve the customer’s system throughput by 25% enabling them to onboard new analytic applications without increasing investment in data warehouse infrastructure.

The third example is a financial services institution. This customer has many different data sources, including Hadoop, and one of its key initiatives is to streamline and optimize fraud detection. Using a historical analysis component, the organization would monitor real-time activity against historical trends to detect any suspicious activity. For example, if you go to a grocery store outside of your normal home ZIP code one day and pay for your goods with a credit card, this could trigger an alert at your bank. The bank would then see that you historically did not use your credit card at that retailer, prompting them to put a hold on your card, but potentially preventing a thief from using your card unlawfully. Using Attunity to leverage both historical and real-time transactions in its analytics, this company is able to decrease fraud and improve customer satisfaction.

Q3. How difficult is it to perform deep insight into data usage patterns? 

Lawrence Schwartz: Historically, enterprises just haven’t had the tools to efficiently understand how datasets and data warehouse infrastructure are being used. We provide Visibility software that uniquely enables organizations to understand how tables and other Data Warehouse components are being used by business lines, departments, organizations etc. It continuously collects, stores, and analyzes all queries and applications against data warehouses. They are then correlated with data usage and workload performance metrics in a centralized repository that provides detailed usage and performance metrics for the entire data warehouse. With this insight, organizations can place the right data on the right platform at the right time. This can reduce the cost and complexity of managing multiple platforms.

Q4. Do you believe that moving data across platforms is a feasible alternative for Big Data? 

Lawrence Schwartz: It really has to be, because nearly every enterprise has more than one platform, even before Hadoop is considered in the mix. Having multiple types of platforms also yields the benefits and challenges of trying to tier data based on its value, between data warehouses, Hadoop, and cloud offerings. Our customers rely on Attunity to help them with this challenge every day. Moving heterogeneous data in many different formats, and from many different sources is challenging when you don’t have the right tools or resources at your disposal. The problem gets magnified when you’re under the gun to meet real-time SLAs. In order to be able to do all of that well, you need to have a way to understand what data to move, and how to move the data easily, seamlessly and in a timely manner. Our solutions make the whole process of data management and movement automated and seamless, and that’s our hallmark.

Q5. What is “Application Release Automation” and why is it important for enterprises?

Lawrence Schwartz: Application release automation (ARA) solutions are a proven way to support Agile development, accelerate release cycles, and standardize deployment processes across all tiers of the application and content lifecycles. ARA solutions can be used to support a wide variety of activities, ranging from publishing and modifying web site content to deploying web-based tools, distributing software to business end users, and moving code between Development, Test, and Production environments.

Attunity addresses this market with an automation platform for enterprise server, web operations, shared hosting, and data center operations teams. Attunity ARA solutions are designed to offload critical, time-consuming deployment processes in complex enterprise IT environments. Enterprises that adopt ARA solutions enjoy greater business flexibility, improved productivity, better cross-team collaboration, and improved consistency.

Q6. What is your relationships with other Hadoop vendors? 

Lawrence Schwartz : Attunity has great working partnerships with all of the major Hadoop platform vendors, including Cloudera, Hortonworks, Pivotal and MapR. We have terrific synergy and work together towards a common goal – to help our customers meet the demands of a growing data infrastructure, optimize their Big Data environments, and make onboarding to Hadoop as easy as possible. Our solutions are certified with each of these vendors, so customers feel confident knowing that they can rely on us to deliver a complete and seamless joint solution for Hadoop.

Q7. Attunity recently acquired  Appfluent Technology, Inc.  and BIReady. Why Appfluent Technology? Why BIReady? How do these acquisitions fit into Attunity`s overall strategy?

Lawrence Schwartz: When we talk with enterprises today, we hear about how they are struggling to manage mountains of growing data and looking for ways to make complex processes easier. We develop software and acquire companies that help our customers streamline and optimize existing systems as well as scale to meet the growing demands of business.

Appfluent brings the Visibility software I described earlier. With Visibility, companies can rebalance data to improve performance and cost in high-scale, rapidly growing environments. They also can meet charge-back, show-back and audit requirements.

BIReady, now known as Attunity Compose, helps enterprises build and update data warehouses more easily. Data warehouse creation and administration is among the most labor-intensive and time-consuming aspects of analytics preparation. Attunity Compose overcomes the complexity with automation, using significantly less resources. It automatically designs, generates and populates enterprise data warehouses and data marts, adding data modeling and structuring capabilities inside the data warehouse.

Q8. How do you define Big Data ROI?

Lawrence Schwartz: The best way to define this is to look at how our customers define it and benefit from Hadoop.

One of our Fortune 500 customers is Wellcare, which provides managed care services to government-sponsored healthcare programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Wellcare plans to use our software to load data from its Pivotal data warehouse into Hadoop, where they will do much of their data processing and transformations. They will then move a subset of that data from Hadoop back into Pivotal and run their analytics from there. So in this case Hadoop is a staging area. As a result of implementing the first half of this solution (moving data from various databases into Pivotal), Wellcare has been able to improve its query speeds from 30 days to just 7 days. This acceleration enabled the Company to increase its analytics and operational reporting by 73%. At the same time, the solution helps Wellcare meet regulatory requirements in a timely manner more easily, ensuring that it receives the state and federal funding required to run efficiently and productively.

In another example, one of our customers, a leading online travel services company, was dealing with exploding data volumes, escalating costs and an insatiable appetite for business analytics. They selected Attunity Visibility to reduce costs and improve information agility by offloading data and workload from their legacy data warehouse systems to a Hadoop Big Data platform. Attunity Visibility has saved the company over $6 million in two years by ensuring that the right workload and data are stored and processed on the most cost-effective platform based on usage.


CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT WEBINAR SERIES: Healthcare Success Story – How WellCare Accelerated Big Data Delivery to Improve Analytics

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