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Exasol and Birst join in-memory database to ‘networked’ BI to aid mutual expansion

German in-memory database company Exasol and California-based BI cloud supplier Birst join forces

Exasol, an in-memory, columnar database supplier and Birst, a cloud BI (business intelligence) supplier have agreed to collaborate, in a move to expand the reach of each in the US and Europe.

Aaron Auld, CEO of Exasol, a German analytical database provider that competes directly with SAP Hana, and Brad Peters, chief product officer of San Francisco-based cloud BI supplier Birst, this week spoke of the cultural fit between their two companies.

In a deal described by both as a “strategic partnership”, Birst will embed the Exasol database, and Exasol will look to expand its reach in the US.

Birst’s Peters said: “I have been scouring the earth for analytical databases. Most databases stink for analytics. They are just awful, especially the big data, document databases.

“NoSQL databases are great for atomic storage and retrieval, and for elastic scaling over a distributed [server] environment, but when it comes to doing aggregations with joins – and that’s what analytics is about – it is just not what they are built for.”

Peters said Exasol had appeal because it is in-memory and columnar, and does massively parallel processing (MPP). Birst came across Exasol as its business expanded among European customers and vice-versa, he said. The latter’s customers include, maker of Candy Crush and United Utilities in the UK.

Auld, who confirmed that he sees Birst as a route to US market expansion, said the relatively small sizes of the two companies, and their relaxed and agile cultures, were a good fit. “This partnership will give Birst customers access to a truly enterprise-scale, in-memory database that is very cost-effective,” he said.

“Enterprises using [our] in-memory analytic database can expect half-second response times when querying hundreds of terabytes of data, across multiple billions of rows. This, in combination with Birst’s cloud-based, multi-tenant architecture, can offer enterprises a five to 10-times improvement in price performance over traditional BI platforms.”

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Birst’s Peters added: “This collaboration brings together [Exasol’s] high-performance, in-memory database and our ‘networked BI’ approach to provide customers with the performance and scalability they need.

“Now customers have access to the ultimate user data tier to run in front of back-end systems, such as Hadoop and Amazon Redshift. This is ideal for medium to large enterprises seeking high performance against complex datasets and large user loads.”

Peters said Birst’s ‘networked BI’ approach is based on virtualisation. “Our goal is not just to make BI a little simpler, but to leverage cloud architectures to transform what BI is,” he said. “Data exists in silos naturally and to create the mother of all silos in a data warehouse has not been successful. It is better to leave data in place and interconnect it.”

He said Birst’s approach to business intelligence combines governance for IT and agility for the business.

“This specific deal with Exasol will reduce the friction in the blending of governed and trusted data, managed by the core enterprise, with decentralised data,” he said. “For the [business] folks on ‘the edge’ [outside of IT] it will make it easier for them to do the kinds of common business intelligence tasks that they want to do.”

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