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Altiscale Insight Cloud goes up the Hadoop stack

Altiscale adds a basic ingest, transformation and analysis UI to its Hadoop as a Service offering, and wires it up for easy connection from major BI tools.

Hadoop-as-a-Service (HaaS) vendor Altiscale is moving up the stack with a new service called Altiscale Insight Cloud. The offering sits atop Altiscale Data Cloud, the company's existing service that features on-demand, burst-able Hadoop and Spark resources on a subscription basis.

Whereas Data Cloud offers Big Data infrastructure, Insight cloud offers a Web UI supporting lightweight data ingest, transformation and analysis services. More on-point, however, is that Altiscale says Insight Cloud is a Hadoop/Spark offering that is very BI tool-ready, so that users of Tableau, Excel or other common self-service tools can more readily attach to and analyze Big Data.

List of ingredients
Ingest services consist of a user interface over jobs that run on Apache Oozie, and allow the definition of validation rules on the ingested data, which may be based on regular expressions. Transformation services involve not full-on data prep or ETL capabilities but light-weight tasks like re-ordering and renaming columns.

Analysis functionality is provided by an OEM'd implementation of Alation, a product which acts as a data catalog and which features a SQL query user interface. Underneath Alation, Altiscale has configured the Hadoop cluster such that Hive and Spark SQL point to exactly the same data files, and either technology be used to satisfy queries.

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Source: Altiscale

Between Hive and Spark SQL, Insight Cloud covers both batch and interactive workloads. In addition, Altiscale is working on a streaming data ingest capability. The feature, which under the covers uses Apache Kafka and Spark Streaming for ingest and HBase for query/analysis, is still an Alpha-level preview.

White glove
This offering from Altiscale is an impressive one, and seems to be based on a good deal of common sense. Insight Cloud nicely finishes off the raw infrastructure of Altiscale Data Cloud with some basic functionality to make the combination of Hadoop and Spark more usable, but without reinventing the wheels that BI and Big Data analytics players have in-market already.

Customers looking for even more in the way of turnkey solutions can engage Altiscale Professional Services to help them build custom data connectors, author ETL assets and build out fully developed dashboard solutions.

Enterprise pricing; Enterprise solution

Pricing is consumption driven, and at $9,000/month for 20TB of storage and 10,000 "task hours" (a unit of compute that Altiscale uses and defines), Insight Cloud is definitely an Enterprise offering. So be it; the TCO of rolling your own Hadoop solution is likely comparable to the $108K/year that this subscription pricing works out to.

Having Insight Cloud in-market makes Altiscale more competitive with fellow HaaS provider Qubole. It may well also stoke the Big Data market in a way that benefits a number of vendors in the space.