Roambi Extends Mobile BI Apps To Apache Hive, Hadoop Environments


Mobile BI startup Roambi was quick to jump on the BYOD phenomenon that swept the enterprise in 2012 and is now placing itself out in front of another major industry trend: big data.

The company, which was named one of CRN's Coolest Emerging Vendors of 2012, has unveiled a new database connector that allows its graphics-rich BI applications to extract data from 12 new big data-focused data sources, including the Hadoop-based Apache Hive 0.9, IBM Netezza, SAP HANA and EMC's Greenplum.

With the Roambi ES 4.5 JDBC Connector, businesses can tap into these sources, capture data, and then use Roambi's mobile app for the iPhone and iPad to turn that data into visual reports for realtime insight into sales and other key business metrics. It works alongside BI systems including SAP BusinessObjects and IBM Cognos, and allows users to pull data from multiple data sources into a single report.

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According to Quinton Alsbury, president of product innovation at Roambi, the app departs from traditional BI applications in that it's entirely interactive and lets users navigate BI reports and graphs through the swiping and tapping gestures they've grown accustomed to using their iPhones and iPads.

"There was an opportunity to come at the concept of interacting with and navigating through and understanding data in a completely different way than had really been thought of in the previous 20, 30, maybe even 40 years," Alsbury said. "Software applications, in terms of the interfaces, and data handling, and interaction and consumption, had been extraordinarily static for a very long time in business tools."

With the release of the new JDBC connector, this interactivity and on-the-go reporting can now be applied to any Java-based big data environment. "That connector gives us access to any database that supports JDBC, or a Java database driver," said Alsbury.

The Roambi app is compatible only with iOS-based devices, but the company said it will consider rolling software out for smartphones and tablets based on Google's Android and Windows Phone operating systems, should the market demand be there. It's available as both an on-premise server solution and as a hosted service.

Bill Hoggarth, director at Dataways, a South African-based solution provider and Roambi partner, said one benefit of selling the Roambi platform is that it works with both traditional BI data sources and next-generation data sources, such as those using Hadoop, that are being leveraged for big data initiatives.

"We've seen much talk and excitement about big data, but our Roambi business up until now has really been focused on traditional BI data sources, rather than the promised land of data virtualization," Hoggarth said. "In the medium term, we will extend the data sources behind our Roambi rollouts to include the larger volumes, greater variety, increased unpredictability and faster time demands of big data."

Roambi sells almost exclusively through the channel in Europe and South Africa, but does not currently have a partner program in the U.S. That said, the company said it is looking to eventually expand its partner base, and on-board new solution providers moving forward.

PUBLISHED FEB. 14, 2013