Big data for little (and big) businesses: SiSense lands $10m investment

The company has been making waves in the enterprise world with its big data systems and is seeing interest from investors and customers alike.

If you have a lot of data, a crack team of support staff, and a bunch of powerful servers, you can use Hadoop for your business intelligence needs. If you have a lot of data, a crack team of support staff, a bunch of powerful servers and a lot of money, you can use something like Teradata or Greenplum (and, of course, the accompanying appliances) for your business intelligence needs.

Israel-based SiSense however is targeting the vast majority of businesses with up 10TB of data, run-of-the-mill servers, and a support staff that isn't necessarily expert in database queries. Its Prism BI system is aimed at users who want BI systems but with a smaller price tag – and who have a much simpler set of skills.

"Hadoop is fine if you have the need for it and the resources to run it, including the data clusters and the tech people for querying. But it really only makes sense if you have a huge amount of data. Not every business is Wal-Mart or Target," added Bendov. "For the vast majority of businesses, using Hadoop is like driving a Humvee to the grocery store a block away."

SiSense's system takes data from diverse sources – databases,, Google Adwords data and so on – which can then be queried by dragging and dropping. The system can then produce reports, web pages, and documents without the need for coding or complicated text querying.

A SiSense BI result screen Image: SiSense

You don't need a big data appliance from EMC or IBM to do big data analytics, claims CEO Amit Bendov; the average off-the-shelf server has computing power aplenty for any BI analyses. Prism uses a database heart called ElastiCube to do just that: before it begins analysing, ElastiCube checks out the user's computing environment, examining the strength of the processor (for example, one core, two cores or more?), the amount of RAM, hard drive situation and then it figures out how hard it can push the system, says Bendov.

Amit Bendov. Image: SiSense

While SiSense's message is that you don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to use BI, it has both large and small companies on its books, says Bendov. For example, Target uses it to analyse store theft, and Merck uses it to track pharmaceuticals. "In most cases, the computing power of the CPU is not being used fully. We are making the most of the hardware," he adds.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given its revenues have jumped 520 percent year on year and its customer base is growing, the company has drawn the attention of investors too – the Israeli BI company has just closed a $10m Series B round of funding led by Battery Ventures with participation from Opus Capital and Genesis Partners.

"We are experiencing exponential sales growth and incredible buzz in the market," said Bendov. "Now it's time to add oil to the fire. Our biggest challenge right now is growing the sales force and the support teams quickly enough to keep up with the demand."