By: William Reynolds
If your small and/or startup business must work with Big Data, then you probably face some equally big challenges when it comes to parsing, comparing, analyzing and interpreting that data without breaking your IT budget. Over the years major software companies have produced industry-standard data store platforms such as Hadoop, HBase, Cassandra, Mongo DB and others, but you’ll find these powerful platforms only as helpful as the interfaces that let you work efficiently with the stored data. Here are five free or relatively affordable apps that can get your data management off to the right start:
1. Pentaho – If you keep your data in several different places, you’ve probably been struggling with the need to use different visualization tools for each source. Pentaho does away with that issue by integrating data and business analytics across these various systems, giving you a single platform for visualization and predictive analytics from whichever of your sources you choose to draw data from. The Enterprise Edition costs money, but the Community Edition 5.0 offers much if the same functionality as a free, open-source option. Its slogan is “Any Analytics, Any Data, Simplified” — and who would object to that?
2. Jaspersoft BI – Jaspersoft touts itself as “an embeddable, cost-effective reporting and analytics program,” which would make it right down the small business’s alley. Recognizing that some users need more features than others, Jaspersoft BI offers both Commercial Editions and open-source Community Projects, meaning that you can start with the open-source version and then invest in the full-scale product once your startup takes off. The Commercial Edition features a reporting engine, report scheduling, interactive report viewing, mobile BI, secure user access, data integration, and an OLAP server to help you pivot, filter and drill down into your Big Data.
3. OpenRefine – If you’re trying to run your new company from a big pile of old (or sloppily-compiled) data, then you need this free, open-source app, previously known as Google Refine. For example, say your spreadsheet sources have identified the same category under slightly different titles — they use of “Time and Materials” and “T&M” to represent the same thing, for example, or the use of “FMP” as an abbreviation for three different categories. OpenRefine lets you explore, trim down and rename these groups far more quickly and easily than you ever could on your own. Various extensions, plugins and services are available to let you update the cleaned data to your central database or push it out to the Web.
4. SAS Visual Analytics – Nobody turns numbers into images more clearly and compellingly than SAS. Their Visual Analytics software lets you see your Big Data in the form of heat maps, tree maps, charts, graphs — however you want to drill down into your data, this program has a way to show you the results. You also get on-the-fly forecasting, in-memory processing, and a number of options for distributing and viewing the data, including over the cloud. SAS encourages small to mid-size business owners to call for a quote that matches their needs and intended usage.
5. Informatica PowerCenter Express – Do you only need to make your data integration and in-line data profiling available to a single user on a limited basis? If so, you can’t beat the value provided by Informatica Power Center Express’s Personal Edition. The Professional Edition has such nice options as unlimited rows processed per day, one-to-one email support, and the ability to serve up to five users at a time, but it also costs $8,000 annually for each supported user. You can always go for that later; for now, the free version will let you process up to 250K rows per day, one task at a time — and that might be quite enough for what you need to accomplish.
The list of hot new data integration tools goes on and on, and it will only grow larger as enterprises need new and better solutions for their Big Data headaches. In the meantime, check these products out — you might just find the perfect fit for your own data management needs!
William Reynolds has worked as a freelance copywriter since 1997.William specializes in website content, ghost-blogging, print marketing content and audio/video scripts. Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici and Stuart Miles /FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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