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Tableau Makes Big Data Visualization Connections

Data visualization specialist Tableau Software Inc. expanded its support of Apache Hadoop and other Big Data technologies through several new partnerships and direct-connection capabilities.

The 11-year-old company, which cut its teeth as a spin-out of Stanford University with new ways to visualize data sets from relational databases to glean business intelligence, has further embraced Big Data in its latest moves, highlighted by a new connector for Apache Spark.

Spark is an increasingly popular open source project that provides multiple improvements to Big Data analytics, such as better performance, interactive queries and in-memory cluster computing.

Released last week in beta, the new native Spark SQL connector from Tableau works on the Windows and Mac OSes.

"Our integration also provides new capabilities to the Spark community -- users can visually analyze their data without writing a single line of Spark SQL code," the company said in a statement. "That's a big deal because creating a visual interface to your data expands the Spark technology beyond data scientists and data engineers to all business users. The Spark connector takes advantage of Tableau's flexible connection architecture that gives customers the option to connect live and issue interactive queries, or use Tableau's fast in-memory database engine. Tableau also provides users the capability to blend Spark data with data from any of our other 40-plus direct connectors, empowering users to leverage their existing data assets wherever they are."

Tableau exec Jeff Feng wrote in a guest blog post on the Databricks Inc. site that the company is now "certified on Spark." He noted that within the past eight months the hot open source project has been adopted by 10 Hadoop distributors, including the "big three" of Cloudera Inc., Hortonworks Inc. and MapR Technologies Inc. Databricks has been the primary commercial force behind the Apache Spark project, leading open source development efforts.

"The decision to support Spark was easy -- it was largely driven by our customers," Feng said. "Spark's usefulness as a powerful all-around Big Data platform for interactive queries and data processing has made it one of the most frequently requested data sources in the last couple months."

Tableau also announced new direct-connection capabilities with InfoSphere BigInsights from IBM, along with new beta connectors for Amazon Elastic MapReduce from Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS).

The company said its connection capabilities for InfoSphere BigInsights -- a Hadoop-based offering -- will let users do "drag-and-drop analytics" with the IBM software.

With the AWS beta connector, the company said users can work directly with hosted and managed Hadoop environments in the Amazon cloud.

Earlier, the company had announced a direct connection to the enterprise NoSQL database platform from MarkLogic Corp.

"Tableau is helping to drive the rapidly innovating Hadoop landscape," said exec Dan Jewett. "Our integrations with technology partners in the Hadoop and NoSQL space as well as our efforts to support the Apache open source community all stem from our mission to put the rich visual analytics capabilities of Tableau into the hands of everyone, even those with billions of rows of data."

The company invited developers interested in participating in the beta programs to apply via e-mail.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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