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Alteryx Gears Up for the Analytics Cloud Future

Advanced analytics provider Alteryx's Trifacta acquisition and new lineup of cloud-native technologies is steering the company where machine learning, AI, and other analytics are headed -- the cloud.

Data and analytics have entered the era of the cloud with two-thirds of analytics for both development and production expected to be performed in the cloud by 2023, according to a Gartner report from November 2021.

If your organization is taking your analytics environment to the cloud or planning to, you are in the majority. A full 75% of organizations say that they are planning for their analytics environments to be deployed in the cloud or they are already there, Gartner says. It’s natural for organizations to look to public cloud giants AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure as they undertake this migration. But other providers with their roots in the on-premises world are moving as fast as they can to retain their enterprise customer bases they have built over the years and expand them, too.

It’s in this market environment that analytics provider Alteryx announced its Alteryx Analytics Cloud earlier this month -- what the company is calling its first unified end-to-end analytics automation platform. The platform incorporates the following components into a single unified platform: Alteryx Designer Cloud, Alteryx Machine Learning, Alteryx Auto Insights, and Trifacta Data Engineering Cloud. This comprehensive cloud platform is among a raft of announcements from the company as it gears up for competing with the public cloud providers and its more traditional competition during a new era of analytics in the cloud.

Trifacta Factor

A linchpin in Alteryx’s strategy may be its acquisition of data engineering software company Trifacta, which closed in February.

“Trifacta brings game-changing integration with cloud data warehouses like Snowflake and purpose-built architecture for all three major public cloud providers -- Amazon Web services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure,” said Alteryx CEO Mark Anderson in a statement announcing the deal’s close. “These capabilities will anchor and accelerate Alteryx’s journey to the cloud by combining our industry-leading analytics solution with Trifacta’s cloud-native capabilities to offer unrivaled deployment options that meet the analytics needs of our customers.”

Trifacta is a former competitor to Alteryx, and it adds cloud-native technology and talent to the mix as Alteryx takes its cloud plans forward. Alteryx needed these capabilities right away, and the Trifacta deal was a way to quickly get it done, according to Pete Krensky, Gartner research director.

“They needed this out yesterday,” he says. “The Trifacta element impresses me.”

Krensky notes that this acquisition will increase Alteryx’s credibility with a key enterprise stakeholder, the data engineers who manage all the enterprise data pipelines and analytics tools and applications that are being fed by data.

Democratizing Analytics

Alteryx has a slightly different message it continues to emphasize, casting itself as the organization that can democratize data science, enabling business users to get high level capabilities from an easy to understand and use graphical user interface. The company’s chief data and analytics officer, Alan Jacobson, joined Alteryx in 2019 after spending years at Ford Motor Co. where he led engineering teams and ultimately led a data science team that used Alteryx.

In his demo about how easy it is to use Alteryx technology, Jacobson tells stories about how his teenage sons are both certified in Alteryx, and he provides examples of their use cases, for instance, using advanced analytics to determine the right amount of sleep and proper nutrition to improve performance in a two-mile race.

“We’re democratizing analytics, allowing more people to start manipulating data and exploring data in ways that they couldn’t do it before,” says Jacobson. “So it’s not just for the data scientists.”

Jacobson says there are two reasons why it’s important for analytics technology to move to the cloud. First, as businesses get bigger and analytics get more sophisticated, the required compute power will increase, too, and the cloud is better able to scale for that. Second, more customer data is now in the cloud, so it’s important for the analytics capabilities to be where the data is.

That said, Alteryx has no plans to eliminate its on-premises business. Jacobson describes the company’s approach as cloud first. The company has existing products for on-premises now. Jacobson says it remains to be seen if Alteryx’s new cloud-native technologies will be offered in on-premises versions. He acknowledges that the trend is for organizations to move more to these managed cloud solutions that don’t need to be managed on-premises by the IT department.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we’re giving customer options completely across the spectrum,” says Jacobson.

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