Blog

July 11, 2014

Your Big Data Noise-Canceling Headphones

Keith McClellan

Author:

As I sit down to write this, I’m hurtling across the country at 550 mph on an airplane, listening to some music on my phone using my noise-canceling headphones.

These are my second pair (my first died a premature death, but I don’t mind – the new ones are more comfortable and do a better job), and I can’t imagine flying without them. When the last pair died, I replaced them within 24 hours. Instead of blowing out my eardrums blasting music over the roar of the engines, I can play my tunes at nary above a whisper, with barely a hiss of white noise to detract from my listening enjoyment.

Big Data suffers from the same kind of problem that noise-canceling headphones were designed to fix. It’s hard to find actionable insights in the sea of noisy big data, much like it’s hard to hear your music over all of the background noise on your flight.  You need a tool that helps you make sense of the data you have, and that filters out all of the noise that confuses your ability to understand the data you’re already collecting.  And that tool needs to be easy enough to use that you don’t have to hire an army of PhDs to get anything of value out the other end.

Platfora does that in two very important ways. It allows you to look at your data as an aggregate and as a series of events.  An aggregate view of your data allows you to window through data in interesting ways – focusing either on how the majority of your data behaves, or on the outliers that indicate something unusual going on.

An event series view does something different – it allows you to track an entity (or group of entities) across multiple data sources, and determine the path they took to get from point A to point B. Both views of the data are available in a self-service fashion, enabling you to control how you explore the data living in your Big Data ecosystem.

Not only can Platfora help you cancel out the background noise for your analysts, it can also share those resulting insights with other tools. This enables you, for example, to bring your big data holdings to your traditional analytics tools such as R without having to worry about overwhelming your statistical processing with reams data that doesn’t relate to the problem at hand.  With the release of Platfora 3.5, that capability becomes even more valuable as we now support API access to our lens cache, allowing for direct integration of those tools with our Big Data Analytics engine.

These capabilities, added to your existing data ecosystem, can bring outsized dividends.  By drowning out the noise and making Big Data easier to use and understand, Platfora makes the organizations that adopt it more effective than they were without it.  And and like the headphones, we believe we make the whole experience a bit more pleasurable as well.

Keith McClellan leads up Federal Engineering at Platfora, and has been focused on Big Data and related technologies for most of his career. If you’re interested in his random musings, he tweets @keithmcc and occasionally writes for the Platfora blog.

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