By definition, Big Data is all about collecting large (or "Big") volumes of structured and unstructured data. What makes Big Data useful is analysis of the collected information to find patterns and meaning that otherwise would be left undiscovered. Making sense of Big Data is the realm of Big Data analytics tools, which provide different capabilities for organization to derive competitive value.
In this Datamation guide, we look at 8 of the top Big Data Analytics Tools that cover multiple aspects of the market.
- Zoho Analytics
- Microsoft Power BI
- Oracle Analytics Cloud
- Pentaho Big Data Integration and Analytics
- SAS Institute
What should you look for when selecting Big Data Analytics tools for your business?
Analytic Capabilities. There are multiple types of analytics capabilities with different models for various types of analysis including: predictive mining, decision trees, time series, neural networks, path analysis, market basket analysis, and link analysis.
Integration. Often additional statistical tools and programming languages (such as R) are needed by organization to conduct other forms of custom analysis.
Data Import and Export. Getting data in and out of various tools is a critical feature and understanding how difficult (or easy) it is connect the analytics tool to the big data repository is a key consideration.
Vizualization. Seeing the numbers is one thing, but having data displayed in a graphical format, often makes the data more useable.
Scalability. Big Data can be big to start with, and generally has a tendency to grow even bigger over time. Organizations need to consider and understand the scalability options for the analytics tools they choose.
Collaboration. Analysis can sometimes be a solitary exercise, but more often than not it involves collaboration.
Focusing on ease of use – a particularly key attribute as data tools grow – Zoho analytics is a self service option. Meaning that users will not need the assistance of IT staff or professional data scientists to glean insight from data. Notably, the Zoho data software has an intuitive drag and drop interface, as well as a classic spreadsheet-style interface.
Recognizing today’s diverse data sources, Zoho Analytics allows connection to a broad array of data repositories. These include files stored locally, in cloud drives, many key business applications, databases, and even your company’s own custom-built applications. After a query, results can be viewed in charts, tabular views, standard dashboards, and KPI visualizations.
Also in keeping with Zoho’s focus on allowing ease of use: access to levels of data can be controlled through a series of permission levels. This means the platform can be accessed widely, from the data pros in the C suite to the sales reps who need data analytics trend lines on the run. Similarly, Zoho Analytics allows users to create a comment threat in the app, to facilitate collaboration between staffers and teams. Zoho is a good choice for businesses that need to provide convenient, accessible data analytics insight to staffers at every level.
Key differentiator: Intuitive drag and drop interface.
Use Cases: Businesses focused on ease of use.
Pricing: Starts at a free plan for limited accounts, up to $495 monthly for full-featured reporting.
When it comes to the core of Big Data, few if any companies are as closely tied with the core Hadoop Big Data open source platform as Cloudera. After all, the founders of Hadoop itself started the company. Cloudera recently got an even bigger foothold in the Hadoop ecosystem with the merger of Hortonworks which was its primary rival.
The key differentiator for Cloudera is the company's deep understanding and core competence in Hadoop, which carries through its portfolio including the company's Cloudera Enterprise platform. This is built on top of the open source CDH distribution.
Cloudera's Big Data tools are a good fit for organizations that need a full stack that includes the core Hadoop technology for collecting and creating Big Data. With Cloudera Enterprise, organizations are able to create and process predictive analytics models, using a variety of integrated tools.
Microsoft's Power BI has been a perennial favorite for analyst firms in the business intelligence space, based largely on the platform's ease of use and accessibility.
In 2018, Microsoft expanded Power BI, extending the same ease of use to Big Data, enabling data ingest and transformation. The key differentiator for the platform is integration with the Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 which supports HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) for advanced big data analytics.
Power BI is a good choice for organizations looking for an easy on-ramp into Big Data Analytics and is a particularly obvious choice for those that have already standardized on a Microsoft stack. Power BI provides cloud based business analytics and integrates what Microsoft calls "content packs" with pre-built dashboards and report for different types of analysis and data monitoring. The collaboration capabilities in the platform enables users to share data and dashboard, while also providing alerting capabilities.
Oracle hasn't always been known as a Big Data analytics provider, but it's a space where the database giant has moved aggressively into in recent years. Self-service Big Data analytics on a consumption usage model is what the Oracle Analytics Cloud is all about.
Among the key differentiators of the Oracle Analytics Cloud that users comment on is the platform's automation capabilities for different types of analytics and Big Data analysis use-cases. Organizations that are already used to using Oracle tools, including Oracle's namesake database, will likely be the most attracted to the Analytics Cloud offering.
The ability to bring multiple data sources together is a core capability of the Oracle Analytics Cloud, with a strong infrastructure that including the Oracle Event Hub Cloud service to ingest data and the Oracle Big Data Cloud Service to store data.
Hitachi is not a name that many would associate with Big Data, but ever since the company acquired Pentaho in 2015, it has been a solid player in the space.
Pentaho's roots are with its open source analytics platform upon which the more expansive Enterprise edition is built. It's the open source nature of the platform that is a key differentiator and has led to a broad community of users that is also often seen as a key strength by users.
Pentaho is a good choice for organizations with lots of different types of data and big data sources. The ability to rapidly ingest and blend data from different sources is another key benefit that users gain from the Pentaho Big Data Integration and Analytics platform. Pentaho's platform enables multiple models including predictive analytics to help organizations guide toward specific outcomes.
SAS Institute has a long history in the analytics market that predates the use of Big Data as both a term and a technology by decades. The company has deep domain expertise in analytics which is manifest across a number of different offerings that can help with Big Data Analytics, among them is the Visual Analytics solution that runs on the broader SAS platform for analytics.
Visual Analytics is for users and organizations that are looking for deep analytics tools, with drag and drop functionality for building advanced visualizations. Extensibility of the platform for different types of business intelligence and data reporting needs is a key differentiator for the platform.
Collaboration is a core component as well with the ability to share information and comments across multiple options including mobile devices, web browsers and even Microsoft Office applications. SAS Visual Analytics can be deployed on-premises or as a service in the cloud.
Getting Big Data repositories in a state where they can be rapidly used for analytics is a non-trivial challenge, that Sisense aims to help solve with its platform
The promise of helping to make it easier to get Big Data ready for analysis is an area of strength and a key differentiator for Sisense, with its Big Data preparation capabilities that aim to make is easier for users to model data.
Sisense is a good choice for larger organizations that are looking for fast implementation time and solid customer support. The data visualization via the systems dashboard is often seen by users as being easy to use and as a time saver to get the required results. Accessing the dashboards and sharing data is another core strength of the platform, with mobile and web options as well as the ability to easily generate different types of reports.
Sisense offers both on-premises as well as cloud-based offering for its platform.
Splunk started out as a log analysis platform and has found a loyal based of users and organizations that love the way the platform works and enables data manipulation and visualizations. For those organizations that are already using Splunk for log or other types of analysis, embracing Splunk Analytics for Hadoop is an easy step.
Splunk as a platform is known for its user-friendly web based log inspection and analytics capabilities, which can be extended to look at Big Data stores in Hadoop systems. The platform benefits from a proven collaboration component and enables users to create and share graphs and analytics dashboards.
Key differentiators for Splunk include the ability to integrate with other elements of the Splunk platform, including security controls and Splunk's own search process language (SPL) which further provides strong benefits to users.
The Tableau platform is a recognized leader in the analytics market and is a good option for non-data scientists working in enterprises, across any sector.
The VizQL data visualization technology at the core of Tableau is a key differentiator for the platform overall, creating data visualization without the need to first organize data. Connectivity to different types and backends of Big Data is also a core attribute of the Tableau platform.
A big benefit that users find from Tableau is the ability to reuse existing skills, in the Big Data context. Tableau makes use of a standardized SQL (Structured Query Language) to query and interface with Big Data systems, making it possible for organizations to make use of existing database and analyst skills sets to find the insights they are looking for, from a large data set. Tableau also integrates its own in-memory data engine called "Hyper" enabling fast data lookup and analysis.
Big Data Analytics Tools Comparison Chart
|Zoho Analytics||Intuitive drag and drop interface||Businesses focused on ease of use||Starts at a free plan for limited accounts, up to $495 monthly for full-featured reporting. FREE Zoho Trial|
|Cloudera Enterprise||Deep understanding and core competence in Hadoop||Full stack Big Data deployments||Variable pricing options including annual subscriptions starting at $4,000 and hourly SaaS offerings starting at $0.08 an hour.|
|Microsoft Power BI||Ease of use||Organizations already invested in the Microsoft Azure Data Lake Storage system for Big Data||Pro plan costs $9.99 per user per month. Premium plan is built on a capacity pricing, charging per node per month.|
|Oracle Analytics Cloud||Automation for analytics and Big Data.||Oracle database and Big Data stack users.||Standard Edition - starts at $1.3441 per hour
Enterprise Edition - $4.0323 per hour
|Pentaho||Open source software roots||Organizations with lots of different types of data and big data sources.||Available by request from vendor|
|SAS||Platform extensibility for different types business intelligence and data reporting needs||Organizations that are looking for deep analytics tools||Available by request from vendor|
|Sisense||Getting Big Data ready for analysis||Larger organizations that are looking for fast implementation time and solid customer support.||Annual license model and customer pricing available by request from vendor|
|Splunk||Splunk's own search process language (SPL), provides strong benefits to users.||Solid choice for organizations that are already using other Splunk analysis tools||Add on license for Splunk Enterprise.
Base pricing for Splunk Enterprise starts at $150 a month
|Tableau||VizQL data visualization technology||Users that are looking for easy to setup and customize dashboards.||Viewer license - $12 per user/month
Explorer - $35 per user/ month
Creators - $70 / user/month