Google closes Looker acquisition

After clearing UK anti-trust review, Google and Looker have formally sealed the deal.
Written by Tony Baer (dbInsight), Contributor

In a couple of short blog posts from Google Cloud CEO Tom Kurian and Looker CEO Frank Bien published late yesterday, Google announced that it closed the acquisition of Looker. The main stumbling block, antitrust approval from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, cleared this week as the British body found the deal would not adversely affect competition or service.

As we reported last June, Google's goal was filling out a missing piece in its data and analytics portfolio. Looker is not just another BI visualization tool. It has that end user visualization component, but the core of the tool is its modeling language that introspects the underlying relationships between data sources to build a common model of the truth.

In his post today, Kurian re-emphasized that with the deal, Looker would retain its capability to be the integration layer that crawls multiple sources of data, not just in Google, but other clouds and on-premises systems as well. Google won't limit Looker to data residing in the Google cloud. Biens in his post reinforced the point. It comes against a history of BI acquisitions where, as Andrew Brust and Larry Dignan have stated, once-independent tools have become de facto captive extensions of the data and enterprise application platform players that bought them.

To recap, Looker's cloud-based platform is best known for its LookML modeling language, which crawls source databases to create data models that developers then enhance. Looker is not just another ETL tool (it won't replace Informatica or Talend) or end user visualization tool. The advantage is that Looker models, not just the schema, but also the interrelationships across multiple data sources, and its crawler allows those models to evolve – in effect, keeping data models current regardless of how data sources are changing. That's an important advantage in an era where data is being sourced, not just from traditional walled garden enterprise databases but cloud data lakes that are increasingly dynamic.

Looker released version 7 of its platform last fall, where it beefed up its visualizations, SDKs, and a new service for managing data connections. Although coming after announcement of the acquisition, these updates were made while the company was still functioning as an independent entity. We'll expect to hear more from Google on its roadmap for Looker at its Next conference, which will be in early April. And for updating of how the Looker deal changes the analytic tools landscape, look for Big on Data bro Andrew Brust's piece tomorrow.

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