In the surprisingly tight race for our Product of the Year award in the Network and Systems Management category, DataFlux Accelerator eked out a narrow victory. This relatively new suite lets customers analyze their data, improve data when problems are found, and then keep an eye on it to make sure quality doesn’t slip.
DataFlux began over 10 years ago, providing solutions in the data quality space by helping customers make better use of their data by cleaning and analyzing it. In the summer of 2000, it was purchased by SAS, the world’s largest privately owned software company.
In the last few years, DataFlux has seen client interest grow in master data management (MDM), which allows enterprise applications to share data, and to share common terminology across various systems. Data governance has become much more of an issue, as customers seek to enforce the consistency of use of data across the enterprise.
In other words, while data concerns used to be localized within divisions of an organization, those same quality issues now affect the entire enterprise. Data rules now govern the whole company, and so data governance has taken on greater importance.
With the rise of these new concerns, DataFlux saw the need for a new kind of product, one that could analyze an unlimited amount of customer data, rate its quality in different areas, then prescribe a system to improve that data. Accelerator launched in early 2007. Since the people using it would be executives, not IT staff, DataFlux chose to present a business-oriented scorecard with the analysis. On the scorecard, viewers don’t see the raw values of the data analysis, but instead see scores in familiar terms. They have the option, though, of drilling down for raw values.
“With the ascendency of MDM and data governance, we’ve seen interest from a lot of different industries in applications and best practices around enterprise data management, and allowing business users to gain insight into processes that can improve their business operations,” said Ron Agresta, a solutions manager with eight years experience at DataFlux.
“What we’ve tried to do is give them the ability to deploy much quicker these offerings, such that the key information is not locked up to IT pros but instead is available to domain experts and business users. It gets them actionable info,” Agresta said.
Accelerator offers three major areas for analyzing data, improving it, and controlling it for the future. The analysis is presented with the previously mentioned scorecard. Improvement falls to several business or Web service components that can be built in to clean up the data. The scorecard directs users to the actual processes they need to run. To make sure the fixes implemented by Accelerator stay in place, a data quality dashboard offers long-term control, keeping an eye on data and constantly monitoring it.
Customers buy Accelerator on DataFlux servers, which support any Windows or Unix platform and can access all the most common databases. Customers choose between three Accelerator bundles, each with its own set of business services. After installation, customers can modify or add new services as needed.
“Increasingly, organizations are recognizing that poor practices for managing data and poor quality of the data itself are significant impediments to achieving business goals,” said Ted Friedman, an analyst with Gartner Research who’s worked extensively with DataFlux Accelerator. “Pre-built functionality for identifying and correcting data quality flaws, and for exposing data in context, will grow in demand as organizations work to improve their information management competence.”
As DataFlux’s Product of the Year win shows, the company has released the right product at the right time, and has found a welcome audience with Datamation readers.
“We pride ourselves on being a customer-centric organization, and the Datamation award is a validation that we’ve hit the mark and taken to heart what our customers have been telling us,” Agresta said.