‘Big Data’ a little less big, thanks to SiSense

Low-cost, super-fast analysis of today’s huge reams of information is the goal of an Israeli start-up

SiSense in action (Photo credit: Courtesy)
SiSense in action (Photo credit: Courtesy)

There’s data, and then there’s Big Data — the reams of information that are generated every second on the Internet, social media sites, database entries, and the plethora of information sources that find their way to servers and clouds, both public and private.

While the clouds in the sky may have silver linings, these tech clouds are paved with gold. The information they contain regarding spending habits, customer behavior, business inefficiencies, and loads of other stuff hidden in the reams of bits and bytes could mean big profits for those who can unlock their secrets. Most companies have to deal with between ½ and 100 terabytes of data, according to experts; making sense of that information is a major priority for businesses of all sizes today. And Israel’s SiSense is one of the more successful companies in the big data analytics business.

The reason for that success is the company’s commitment to “democratizing big data analytics” — making it possible for businesses of any size to take advantage of SiSense’s capabilities, according to SiSense CEO Amit Bendov. “By utilizing state-of-the-art technology and a unique business model, we aim to completely change the current reality in which only Fortune 500 companies can benefit from high-quality, scalable business intelligence solutions,” according to Bendov. “The time has come for every company to have access to full-fledged business information capabilities without compromising on functionality, scalability, manageability, flexibility, governance, collaboration or ease-of-use.”

SiSense’s secret sauce is its Prism software, a drag-and-drop system that lets users take bits of information (sales numbers, costs, etc.) and formulate complicated queries (number of sales per zip code, neighborhood, and income level, etc.) without requiring programming or database querying. The system can plug into databases of all types (SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, etc.), run reports and analytics on very large data sets, on local computers, servers, or on-line, export information into reports, manage rights to data by user, customize displays/results, and so on. In short, according to Bendov, SiSense gives that average user the tools to analyze huge reams of data without having to mortgage their businesses to hire a team of database specialists.

And SiSense does its work quickly. At a recent demonstration in Silicon Valley, SiSense demonstrated that its system could zip through a huge 10 terabytes of data (that’s 10,240 gigabytes, or 10,485,760 megabytes) on a single off-the-shelf Dell server in just 10 seconds, and come up with answers to business intelligence problems posed to it. The demonstration, at the Strata Big Data Conference held in Silicon Valley last month, merited SiSense the Audience Choice Award at the event.

In another demonstration, Prism was able to produce super-fast results using a Dell laptop — a device no “serious” database administrator would even consider using, because it just won’t be up to the task of heavy, memory-intensive analytics. “There’s a lot of hype around Big Data Analytics but even the biggest companies are struggling because of the massive infrastructure, budgets and specialized skills required. Prism levels the Big Data playing field so that businesses of all sizes can get in the game,” said Bendov.

Companies large and small are singing SiSense’s praises. Among its customers are conglomerates like Target and Merck, and startups like do-it-yourself website hosting company Wix. “SiSense has created an exciting new approach to data analysis, combining the power of columnar technology with in-memory speed on huge amounts of data, all on a single node that’s easy to install,” says David Gerster, director of Analytics at Groupon and businesses intelligence industry expert. “If you’ve been wrestling with the size limitations of other tools, do yourself a favor and try SiSense. There’s nothing else on the market that crunches big data so easily and inexpensively.”

On Wednesday, April 3, SiSense, which has customers in 49 countries, announced that it had completed a $10 million Series B round of funding led by Battery Ventures with participation from Opus Capital and Genesis Partners. “We are thrilled to add Battery Ventures as an investor,” said Bendov. “We are experiencing exponential sales growth and incredible buzz in the market — now it’s time to add oil to the fire. Our biggest challenge right now is growing the sales force and the support teams quickly enough to keep up with the demand.”

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