Challenge: Delivering Easy Access to Real-Time Cloud Data
For business intelligence (BI) and extract transform load (ETL) software vendors, the ability to embed real-time access to cloud data in their software solutions can be a make-or-break capability. But the development effort needed to design, manage and test complex integrations with multiple customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and big data sources is overwhelming. Once you’ve developed, tested and deployed drivers for even a single integration, the effort to maintain updates in the application programming interface (API) can be a significant development burden.
For most users of BI and ETL tools, working with batch data is insufficient and they demand access to real-time information so they can ensure the most current views of enterprise data. Explore Analytics, an early stage software as a service (SaaS) BI vendor, saw the opportunity to create a highly differentiated BI solution through a SaaS data visualization solution for businesses and small teams focused on self-service BI.
Gadi Yedwab, Founder and CEO of Explore Analytics, explained, “We see self-service as our core differentiator. In the traditional BI model, someone else creates reports for the user of BI information, but at Explore Analytics we make it easy for users to create interactive dashboards that visually present the data they need to see so they can view the information properly in order to make informed decisions.”
Explore Analytics unleashes the power to slice and dice any data set without the need for a DBA and an expensive data warehousing infrastructure. With Explore Analytics, there’s no software to install because it’s easy to setup and explore your data using nothing but a web browser. The company was planning to develop an integration to Salesforce to enable real-time integration with the popular CRM application, but after a careful evaluation, became a Progress Partner and turned to DataDirect Cloud for Salesforce integration.
Solution: Connect to Multiple Cloud Data Sources Via A Single Driver
Progress was just launching DataDirect Cloud as a cloud-based service, and Explore Analytics immediately recognized the value and importance in offering DataDirect Cloud to customers so they could connect with cloud data sources, analyze the data and present it visually using the rich toolset offered by Explore Analytics.
DataDirect Cloud enables simple, fast connections to cloud data regardless of source—SaaS apps, big data stores or social networks—using a single ODBC or JDBC driver. Its standards-based SQL interface works with any ODBC or JDBC compatible application. DataDirect Cloud is instantly compatible with most important business applications, like CRM, ERP and marketing automation software. Developers can program to a single interface instead of a variety of ever-changing APIs. With DataDirect Cloud, business users can query real-time data to make faster, more accurate decisions because the solution handles the complexity of disparate data source integration.
Partnering with Progress allowed Explore Analytics to offer a highly compelling value proposition to prospects looking to analyze Salesforce data without a major financial investment or commitment of IT resources. “The cloud story for DataDirect Cloud is very appealing, and it complements our SaaS offering,” said Yedwab. “Progress DataDirect Cloud is a robust and proven integration platform. The technology is scalable and very dependable. We like the fact that customers can start small. Many of our customers start with just a single user or a small department. It’s easy to register for our service on a subscription basis, and if they want to use Explore Analytics to analyze real-time information from Salesforce, we recommend DataDirect Cloud and they can evaluate us together.”
Explore Analytics created a demo and marketing campaign of its integration with Salesforce via DataDirect Cloud. Users are now able to visually analyze Salesforce CRM data without installing any software or writing any code. “Cloud BI tools coupled with cloud middleware can finally deliver data access nirvana,” Yedwab said. “For example, a Salesforce.com customer can perform advanced analysis and visualization of their pipeline and sales forecast without installing any software by simply subscribing to DataDirect Cloud and Explore Analytics.” Explore Analytics is planning to leverage DataDirect Cloud to connect to other data sources, such as Oracle RightNow and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “We’re also excited about using Progress DataDirect Cloud for connecting Explore Analytics to big data sources like Amazon, we see more synergy coming down the road,” Yedwab stated.
Explore Analytics is able to focus its development and support resources on its BI SaaS offering, and is working with other Progress Partners on joint solutions marketing opportunities. “Progress brings a depth of enterprise integration support to our customer base, and we’re able to focus our resources on building our SaaS solution and expanding to support big data connectivity for BI,” said Yedwab. “From a BI perspective, a SaaS solution with cloud-based middleware with real-time access to SaaS apps and big data sources is a unique advantage.”
The company does not have to track and manage driver upgrades to cloud data, relieving development and support resources to focus on its SaaS solution. According to Yedwab, “Because Progress DataDirect Cloud is a cloud-based solution, we can use it to provide connectivity without having to worry about upgrades, change control or managing servers. Neither the user—nor Explore Analytics—needs to upgrade drivers, and we don’t need to keep up with API changes of SaaS applications. Progress DataDirect Cloud handles all of that.”
Partnering with Progress and connecting to cloud data with DataDirect Cloud has allowed Explore Analytics to focus its core resources on BI data analysis and visualization, and accelerate its entry into the Salesforce BI market. “Without our relationship with Progress, we would have developed the integration with Salesforce internally, which would probably have taken us an additional year,” Yedwab estimated. “Development resources would have had to be reallocated from our current BI product, and we wouldn’t be ready to scale to support connectivity to other SaaS apps and big data sources with our BI visualization service.”
Explore Analytics is able to focus on building its SaaS offering while relying on DataDirect Cloud for connections to other cloud data sources. “What DataDirect Cloud has accomplished in terms of data access middleware is unique in the industry,” Yedwab stated. “Other vendors let you move data from place to place, but from an analytics point of view, what we really care about is live and real time access to information and the ability to discover all the data fields, query them and summarize and present the information visually. Progress is the only company that provides middleware usable for live access.”
About Explore Analytics
Explore Analytics provides a sophisticated cloud-based self-service data analysis and visualization tool for individuals and teams with no software to install. No technical skills are necessary to setup and use, and users can get started in minutes. Explore Analytics unleashes the power to slice and dice any data set without the need for a DBA and expensive data warehousing infrastructure.