The data visualization and exploration space has three standalone product front-runners. Tableau is one, QlikTech's QlikView is another. A new version (5.5) of the third product, Tibco's Spotfire, was announced today
The three products have a lot in common; they all produce excellent visualizations with a lowered authoring barrier-to-entry for business users, they also each have their own analytical engine, using some flavor of in-memory, column store technology.
The race tightens
One thing that has been a distinction for Tableau is its ability to execute queries on the data source's engine rather than its own. For queries on large data sets, this is especially important.
Tibco began to catch up with its 5.0 release, adding remote query capabilities for Microsoft's SQL Server and SQL Server Analysis Services, as well as Teradata and Oracle. Tibco 5.5 effectively closes that gap, as it now supports remote query to more than 30 data sources.
Predictive analytics, new visualizations
Spotfire 5.5 also integrates with Teradata Aster, which, through remote querying capabilities and Aster's SQL-MapReduce technology, permits in-database predictive analytics to be performed before data is visualized.
Spotfire 5.5 also supports rule-based visualizations, contextual highlighting, "visual joins" for heterogeneous data mashups, and map visualizations for North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Tibco told me that map support for Africa and Australia will be added in the future.
It's the enterprise, stupid
It's important to keep in mind that, unlike BI pure-plays Tableau and QlikTech, Spotfire is on offer from Tibco, a major force in enterprise software. As such, Spotfire connects with Tibco's DataSynapse GridServer and BusinessEvents products.
This buttresses the predictive analytics capabilities to cover operational, business-to-business, and enterprise events and transactions. And to optimize such scenarios, Tibco now offers a free developer edition of the Tibco Enterprise Runtime for R (TERR), which provides for massively parallel statistics processing on Tibco GridServer.
As Big Data sees more enterprise adoption, the importance of enterprise data sources gains significantly more importance. And as Tableau and QlikView gain in popularity, the continued viability of a third horse gains in importance as well.