Sooner or later everyone ascends into the cloud. For visual analytics software vendor Qlik, it's later. Following the November 2014 acquisition of DataMarket, an Icelandic developer of data-visualization tools, Qlik recently announced its new multi-service cloud suite.
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Doug Henschenvice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research
The rebranded centerpiece, Qlik DataMarket data as a service, is being delivered through the Radnor, Pa. company's Qlik Cloud service platform and paired with two other components, the free Qlik Sense Cloud sharing service and Qlik Sense Charts, a mechanism for creating and sharing data visualizations.
"This is a move toward a platform-based approach," said Doug Henschen, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "All Qlik's apps run on that platform and they have moved from the Qlik View core product toward Qlik Sense with more visualization." Qlik is late coming to the cloud party, Henschen said, because the company was "succeeding with its longtime focus on on-premises deployment of its business intelligence, data exploration and data visualization products. Times have changed, and Qlik is now introducing cloud offerings with many APIs for promoting cloud-based demographics work."
Josh Good, Qlik's director of product marketing, sees it differently. "We have not been late to the cloud or rushed just to be fashionable. Competitors took their on-premise solutions, swapped them into the cloud, charged licenses, and said, 'We're cloud ready.' We took a different approach, moving to device-agnostic systems based on Ajax. We spent the time to build a modern platform from scratch for future growth."
Qlik DataMarket gives users the ability to access a wide swath of external data sources directly and cross reference them with internal data to provide overall context. The goal is to yield insights that are deeper than those based on internal or external data alone. Offered as a subscription model, it is preconfigured with various data sources, encompassing business demographics, currencies, economic indicators, population, and weather. These global data stores provide varying degrees of granularity. It ties in to Qlik Sense Cloud, which permits up to five users to share Qlik applications for free.
One common use case could be a sales manager who combines internal sales data with external weather information to build a more-complete picture of factors driving sales higher or dragging them lower, said Good. "Users can search public or syndicated data sources and create on-the-fly visualizations to gain insights and see associations and relationships."
Vincent Cadoret, CIO of Omnicom Media Group in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, plans to put the technology to work in Europe. "The first interest I see with the cloud version of Qlik Sense is the possibility to easily share apps for a low cost, or even for free if you have five or fewer users," Cadoret said. "We have use cases for that here in France, building and securely sharing dashboard mock-ups with prospects or existing clients, without having to manage licenses." Once past five users, the service shifts to the fee-based Qlik Sense Enterprise.
Cadoret noted that in practice, if data sources are already in the cloud, such as cookie data from website traffic, they can be easily pulled in for generating dashboards. When issues do occur, it is usually with data quality and preparation and not the process of dashboard data visualization. "The solution is sharing repositories, reference data and master data, which are likely to be on-premises in an ERP, financial, or CRM system. The question is, 'Do I migrate these data sources to the cloud or go with a hybrid solution?'" Focusing on these upstream data sources to ensure high quality and how they blend to build visualizations are the key points that any developer must consider, he said.
Qlik Sense Cloud sharing is available now. Qlik DataMarket for Qlik Sense is slated for availability in June 2015.
Qlik's new releases