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Birst And Tableau Set Alliance, Develop Links Between Their Business Analytics Software

Move provides more options for customers, opportunities for partners.


Business analytics software developers Birst and Tableau Software are teaming up, developing an integration between the two vendors' products that will allow Tableau users to tap into Birst's cloud-based data integration and transformation capabilities.

The technology alliance also will create opportunities for the vendors' channel partners by broadening customer options, executives of the two vendors said in an interview.

The alliance, disclosed Wednesday morning, is somewhat unusual in that Birst and Tableau compete in the business analytics arena. Seattle-based Tableau offers its popular data visualization and dashboarding software, while Birst, based in San Francisco, provides a more turnkey system that includes front-end visualization, dashboarding and reporting software supported by back-end data integration and transformation tools.

[Related: Salesforce Partners Look To Catch A Wave Of Analytics Opportunities ]

Over the last couple of months, the two companies developed ODBC-based links that will allow business users to utilize Birst's cloud platform to integrate and process data from multiple sources, then use Tableau's visualization software to analyze that data.

"By bringing Birst and Tableau together, we're providing what we think is the new big thing in BI [business intelligence]," said Birst CEO Jay Larson in an interview. "There's a big disruption in the BI market."

Birst and Tableau are among a relatively new generation of business analytics tools that are designed to be useable by a wide range of information workers, in contrast to older BI software that was largely used by IT to build reports, or by people with statistical analysis backgrounds. Newer BI software also is architected to better work with different types of structured and unstructured data.


The BI software market is crowded with many competitors, and executives from Birst and Tableau said the new integration between the two companies' products would offer customers more flexibility -- and so create a competitive advantage for both vendors.

Robert Greene, product management director at Tableau, said in the same interview that the alliance offers customers an alternative to large vendors such as SAP, IBM and Oracle, which acquired older BI companies such as Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion, respectively.

"A lot of this has been customer-driven," Greene said, noting that many customers already have Tableau and Birst in-house.

In addition to developing the ODBC links, the development work included synchronizing the two products' data models, said Brad Peters, Birst co-founder and chief product officer, in the interview.

Birst and Tableau both work with channel partners, and Birst's Larson said the alliance creates "a significant opportunity for our partners" in referral sales, implementation and consulting work.

Boston-based consulting company Cervello provides data management, business analytics and performance management services around Birst, and other BI and data management tools. Vice President Michael Cochrane, who overees the analytics and information management practice, called the Birst-Tableau alliance "refreshing" because it adds to customers' options.


"They're really taking an open, collaborative approach to the market," Cochrane said in a separate interview, because it allows customers "to use the right technology to address whatever challenges they have."

While Cervello doesn't resell Tableau's software, Cochrane said the new linkages would make it easier for his company to integrate Birst into IT environments where customers already have Tableau.

PUBLISHED APRIL 15, 2015

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