With KONA, Kalido Touts a Number of Firsts

Kalido's new KONA appliance could well be the first of its kind

Data warehousing (DW) pure-play Kalido last week unveiled KONA, its first packaged DW and business intelligence (BI) appliance bundle.

KONA actually comprises several firsts. It's the first tangible fruit of a partnership between Kalido and appliance pioneer Netezza Inc. just six months ago. It's more than just a partnership milestone, however.

Some industry watchers see KONA as the first of its kind, or as a harbinger of what's ahed for BI and DW: a new crop of all-in-one BI bundles that -- to an unprecedented degree -- combine domain-specific business models and canned data integration (DI) connectivity with built-in master data management (MDM), analytic, and dashboard capabilities to address the needs of vertical markets.

Kalido pitches KONA as a rapid-time-to-value DW appliance. It bundles a Netezza TwinFin appliance, Kalido's complete DW stack -- i.e., Information Engine, Business Modeler, Metadata Bridge, and Master Data Management (MDM) -- and analytic front-end technology (reporting and dashboards) from QlikTech Inc. In addition, it includes industry-specific business models and canned ETL connectivity via SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).

The first two KONA offerings are designed for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries; Kalido officials say other industry-specific flavors will follow.

"Ultimately our goal is to make this easier for customers to adopt. The KONA appliance does a tremendous job of accomplishing that. It's all integrated directly through us, so customers don't have to worry about going through multiple vendors and multiple stakeholders to get results," says Kalido president and CEO Bill Hewitt.

Speaking of getting results, Kalido promises are big: in most cases, customers will be able to implement and deploy KONA in just 30 days, Hewitt says. In the context of enterprise data warehouse efforts that can take months or even years to come to fruition, that's something just short of lightspeed. "You can absolutely get it up and running in 30 days and you can do it at a very low cost. We've had two existing customers call us up and say, we want it. It's easy for us to buy. You're giving us all of the models and all of the analytics."

Kalido's KONA pitch begs an important question, however: what does Kalido bring to the table that Netezza itself doesn't? After all, Netezza not only sells into both the big pharma and insurance verticals, but -- separate from Kalido -- recently stepped up its own efforts on the vertical-specific front.

Hewitt, to his credit, doesn't demur. "I think there are three important [differentiators]. First of all, the full integration in the stack is clearly an advantage to the customer. Admittedly, that doesn't do more than solve convenience issues, but we're also delivering prebuilt models that solve specific problems. As anyone who's ever been through [designing and implementing a data warehouse] knows, building the model is one of the most challenging parts, so we have these best-practices-based models that we can customize for a customer in much less time. Finally, because it's an appliance, because it's fully integrated, because it's sold and serviced entirely by us, it's something that's easier for them to manage over time than it would be in a traditional environment."

At first glance, Kalido's coziness with QlikTech also seems surprising. That company markets QlikView, an in-memory, desktop-oriented analytic offering. It's similar to neo-Workgroup BI offerings such as LyzaSoft or Microsoft's still-gestating Project Gemini. In contrast to the centrally-managed and centrally-deployed enterprise BI suite -- which typically prescribes the use of a centrally-managed and centrally-deployed EDW-of-record -- Workgroup BI offerings use a seemingly anarchic arrangement: they bring data processing (and in many cases, the data itself) back to the end-user desktop.

Workgroup BI doesn't proscribe the use of an EDW (although some Workgroup BI players, such as Lyza, downplay its importance, at least as it relates to their target audiences), but they don't necessarily champion it, either.

What's Kalido -- arguably the most prominent pure data warehousing player on the market -- doing allying itself with QlikTech? Hewitt, for his part, doesn't think it's an issue. Kalido has long been a champion of federation, he maintains, and what could be more federated than in-memory QlikView, which runs on the end user desktop? The upshot, he says, is that KONA basically "spins out" data to desktop-resident QlikView "data marts."

"Thanks to a relationship that we announced with QlikTech about a year ago [in June 2008], QlikView is now directly integrated into our warehouse technology, so we're able to spin out marts directly into QlikView," he explains.

This begs another question. One of QlikView's biggest selling points is its responsiveness, which parent company QlikTech says is a result of its in-memory, desktop-based topology. Netezza, likewise, came to the fore by pitching its NPS appliances as a good solution for chronic query response problems in large EDW configurations. In other words, the QlikView and Netezza value propositions seem to undercut (inasmuch as they reduplicate) one another.

Hewitt disagrees, noting that Netezza's other value proposition -- as a Big Data platform designed (ultimately) to scale into the petabyte range -- also comes into play. "QlikView being an in-memory product is something that is very good for dealing with the information of the moment, but Kalido is great for storing information in structures and [keeping track of] changes in structures over time, and that's not a piece of QlikView's architecture. Netezza is very good at inexpensively storing these tens and hundreds of terabytes of information and being able to access it very quickly," he argues.

Hewitt also trumpets KONA's MDM component, which he says is all but unprecedented. "The MDM component gives you a certified repository based on the rules and definitions that you choose to create. For the appliance you absolutely have to have that. What good is a data warehouse if it's filled with poor quality data?" he argues.

"[MDM] brings a relatively unique view to this. We can't think of any other appliance that has fully integrated MDM on it. Business people think in terms of organizations and structures … and [MDM is] critical for them to have a better view of how their data is being managed."

Industry-specific bundles are nothing new, of course. Netezza, along with competitors Dataupia Inc., ParAccel Inc., Vertica Inc., Greenplum Inc. and others all market vertical-specific offerings of one kind of another. What's different here, says Wayne Eckerson, director of research with TDWI, is the specific degree of bundling that's involved. It's in this respect that Eckerson sees KONA as an offering that presages the Shape of BI to Come.

"The next wave of business intelligence is end-to-end packaged solutions -- i.e., industry models, data sourcing and integration, MDM, analytics, and dashboards -- tailored to specific business domains that offer quick time-to-value at an affordable price," Eckerson says. "Kalido's partnership with Netezza represents the vanguard of the coming revolution that promises to deliver business what it wants: faster, better, cheaper BI."

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