Looker Introduces Analytical Apps With New Edition Of Its Analytical Platform

Looker has launched a new edition of its data analytics platform, offering new purpose-built applications for digital marketing and web analytics, new self-service analysis capabilities for business users, and a new suite of development tools for data analysts.

The new edition, Looker 6, was unveiled at the company's Join 2018 conference this week and will be generally available in early 2019.

Many of the improvements in the new release fall under the heading of user experience, said Daniel Mintz, chief data evangelist at Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Looker.

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"This is really about making Looker easy to use for all kinds of services," he said, in an interview with CRN, pointing to the software's new features and expanded functionality in workflows, custom fields, scheduling, alerting, content discovery and application editing.

Looker works with systems integration and consulting service providers, as well as ISVs – some who embed Looker's analytics functionality into their applications using the Powered by Looker software.

The company is also relying on partners for international expansion. "Our business in new markets is tightly integrated with partners," Mintz said.

One partner, New York-based Intricity, resells and refer-sells Looker's software as part of its business intelligence, data warehousing and data governance services. Jared Hillam, emerging technology vice president at Intricity, said many BI tools today are geared toward helping data scientists explore raw data.

"However, this is not a scalable model for mass audiences of users, particularly when the goal is consistency and governed truth," Hillam said in an emailed response to a question from CRN. "Looker brought the scalability of orderly analytics in a 'born in the cloud' solution stack. Their platform allows companies to create a metadata layer, which still enables users to explore data but in a layer that abstracts the complexity from the user. This model works superbly with modern data warehousing technologies, which companies are re-investing in as we speak."

Looker also has a close relationship with Snowflake Computing, the cloud data warehouse-as-a-service provider. The two companies co-market/co-sell Looker's software for analyzing data managed by the Snowflake system and provide customers with reference architectures, said Walter Aldana, Snowflake's vice president of alliances, in an interview with CRN.

"Looker is one of our top partners. We constantly lead with Looker," Aldana said, noting that as cloud-native software, Looker is better positioned to take advantage of Snowflake's capabilities than older BI tools. Looker, for example, better supports the concurrency demands of Snowflake customers: Providing large numbers of concurrent users with a consistent view of the data.

IBM also resells Looker as part of its cloud software lineup.

The new analytical applications in Looker 6 provide plug 'n' play analytics with pre-built content. The Looker for Digital Marketing application taps into data in the Looker platform to provide cross-channel insights that help digital marketers optimize marketing performance. The new Looker for Web Analytics, built to work with Google Analytics 360, provides data filtering and drilling capabilities for data generated by the Google system.

"Data is the lifeblood of organizations and users want to do more than just look at data; they want to work in it," said Looker CEO Frank Bien in a statement. "To achieve that, companies need a data platform with a scalable and extensible architecture. Looker 6 is the next evolution of our platform – designed for those building the next generation of data applications and analytic workflows."

The new suite of development tools for data analysts includes tools for foldering and importing work from other people, and expanded permissioning options around model development, according to Looker, one of CRN’s 2018 Big Data 100.

Earlier this year Looker added enhanced workflow capabilities to its software to boost data scientist productivity.

Looker 6 also offers enhanced security and new administrative controls. The new encryption key management architecture provides enterprise-class data platform security procedures, ensuring that both data at-rest and data in-transit are secure. New enterprise security compliance certifications, including SOC2 Type II, are available. Administrators also have better visibility into usage activity.

New custom fields provide greater on-the fly data exploration capabilities for users and refined data visualization functionality. Looker also plans to localize the software's application and data modeling in 2019 by supporting Japanese, French and German languages.