Posted on: 25th July 2018, 11:06 am
Yesterday – on July 24th, 2018 – it was announced Qlik has acquired Podium Data. For someone with a Qlik-developer background, this is somewhat of a surprise marriage. On the other hand, from an outsider’s perspective, it absolutely makes sense to have a leader in analytics acquire an enterprise-grade data management platform with the same mission – to simplify and accelerate a customer’s ability to act on data.
Why the surprise?
Well, firstly, the term ‘data management’ is only mentioned once, in passing, in Qlik’s 2018 statement of direction. Secondly, Qlik’s current messaging is that external data management tools are not required, highlighting the limitations of pre-aggregated hierarchies and pre-defined joins.
That’s not to mention the elephant in the room…Expressor. For those who don’t know, or have forgotten, Qlik acquired Expressor back in June 2012, here is a little snippet from the press-release which describes the software:
“Expressor’s data management solution [will] help facilitate the expansion of QlikView deployments so people in an organization can have the data they need to make better decisions with all of the critical IT security and governance.”
– Qlik.com Press room
Here is the same (second) sentence in yesterday’s press release:
“[Podium data] expands Qlik’s mission, moving beyond analytics to being a provider of solutions that democratize data for every user to create a more data literate world.”
– Qlik.com Press room
If you read both press releases there is evidently similarities between the two products, so why acquire another data management tool? Well, in October 2015, Qlik announced Expressor’s end-of-life. In a later comment on a community post, Technical product marketing manager, Mike Tarallo mentions:
“… we have been investing our time and energy taking what we have learned from the Expressor acquisition, people, software, talent, expertise etc and applying it to newer and more modern data governance and data preparation capabilities within Qlik Sense.”
– Qlik community, April 2016
So, why Podium Data?
In all honesty, I’ve known of Podium Data for less than 24 hours. Therefore, I’ll be regurgitating the content available on their website and what has been mentioned in the press release. From my understanding, the Podium Data platform looks very promising, with many synergy opportunities – namely, providing a data hub offering that will result in a single enterprise-grade end-to-end solution, from raw data to insight.
Today’s Podium platform is built on native Hadoop, leveraging its parallel processing architecture for optimised performance. It also benefits from a modern UI and a Restful API framework. However, the magic sauce, according to Podium, is in the meta data.
“Tight coupling of data and metadata revolutionizes the process of enterprise data management. The approach is so effective, in fact, that the marketplace allows data delivery teams — rather than requiring months of IT experts, programmers, or Hadoop specialists – to give the business users self-service on-demand access to business ready data in days.”
– Podium Data
It appears then that Podium Data is to data management what Qlik Sense is to data visualisation. This is something Expressor never was, ultimately it had the right idea but wrong execution, mainly due to being built on older technologies. Therefore, Podium Data + Qlik sounds like a promising pairing of technology.
The additional functionality Podium Data will bring to Qlik includes advanced profiling with intelligent data identification, advanced script-less ETL interface, data curation and data publishing. Please note this is not an exhaustive list either. In essence, this is Qlik firing a flare gun into every crevasse of business intelligence, signalling its desire to dominate the market with a complete end-to-end solution.
This isn’t to say Qlik Sense is not currently capable of performing complex data transformations, it can. However, the Data Manager, while it’s improved, cannot perform the more-advanced transformations and therefore relies on technical expertise to create a scripted solution. I look forward to learning how Podium Data simplifies this process and shortens the time-to-insights further.
I’m eager to understand how Qlik will technically integrate the two platforms and what it means to Qlik developers. Qlik script won’t be replaced anytime soon and, if released in Qlik’s typical style, we will see it initially appear as an additional offering on top of Qlik’s core products, as opposed to being integrated with the base product from the get-go.
Interpreting Qlik’s messaging from the press release, it sounds like Qlik intends for this product to replace the need for QVDs and external data warehouses, with a modern version of a semantic layer, referenced as a data hub; a one stop shop for all your data needs. If implemented correctly then, this offering can provide business users with analytics ready data on-demand whilst maintaining its integrity by not needing to pre-aggregate hierarchies, nor pre-define joins.
Things just got even more interesting, that’s for sure.
By Christopher Lofthouse