Alation Looks To Simplify Third-Party Data Searches With New Marketplaces Service
Alation Marketplaces provides search capabilities and links to third-party data residing on AWS, Snowflake and other data-rich sites that can be combined with proprietary data managed by the Alation Catalog for data analysis.
Data intelligence software developer Alation has launched an online marketplace service where customers and channel partners can find third-party data sets to augment and enrich data in the Alation Data Catalog for data analysis and other data-related tasks.
Businesses and organizations frequently acquire data from outside sources – U.S. census demographic data, life sciences data and weather information, being examples – to supplement internally generated data. But sourcing reliable third-party data has become increasingly complex and time consuming.
The new Alation Marketplaces will provide search capabilities and links that make it easier to find external third-party data available through vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Snowflake and Data.gov, according to Alation.
[Related: Alation Looks To Extend Data Source Reach With New Partner Program ]
“From the very beginning, our vision has been to help people find the data that they need to get their work done, wherever it may be,” said Aaron Kalb, Alation co-founder and chief strategy officer, in an interview with CRN. Initially that meant locating data owned by a business or organization, whether in an internal database, an AWS S3 bucket or some other system. “And that can be daunting enough and that‘s where we started,” he said.
“But it seemed like a very logical extension of that would be to find data that actually isn‘t anywhere in your organization but is somewhere out there and could be relevant,” Kalb said, citing the growing usage of data marketplaces like AWS Data Exchange, Snowflake Marketplace and Data.gov. “We thought we could do a similar function to all those external data sources that we’ve done to the data sources that exist within our customers.”
With Alation Marketplaces users can search for third-party data that resides in AWS Data Exchange, Snowflake Marketplace and Data.gov, see samples of the data, and then use the Alation toolset to integrate the acquired data with internal data managed by the Alation Data Catalog.
“There‘s really an incredible wealth of data sets across these marketplaces that we re-index and I think we have customers in every vertical. We hope to see a lot of creative use there,” Kalb said.
Alation Marketplaces does not provide transaction capabilities – customers must still purchase the data from the external marketplaces. Kalb said Alation is in discussions with other data providers, whom he declined to identify, to link to Alation Marketplaces.
“The main benefit to the end user is [the] discovery and comparison shopping, if you will,” Kalb said. “It‘s less about the actual procurement and more about finding out what’s possible and making a selection among various options.”
Alation partners, including systems integrators, resellers and service partners, will benefit from Alation Marketplaces in multiple ways, the chief strategy officer said.
Partners who themselves have Alation software can tap into Alation Marketplaces to help expand the breadth and depth of their own data services, Kalb said. The availability of third-party data sources also creates opportunities for systems integrators to bring to client projects their professional services around data management, data preparation, analytics, machine learning and developing data-intensive applications.
“As you discover datasets of any complexity, and [given] how they‘re distributed and syndicated, and getting all those things in the right format and usable in a timely fashion, may be something that people are going to enlist professional service providers and integrators for help,” said Kalb. “A partner could use this to deliver value to their client.”
The new service will also deepen Alation’s relationship with AWS and Snowflake – two of its most important vendor partners, he added.
“Part of why we embarked on this project is that we have a hypothesis that what we‘re calling ‘The Data Economy’ is actually in its infancy,” Kalb said. “We really imagine a future in which enormous quantities of data are being transacted.”
In related news Alation plans to expand its Alation Anywhere software to Microsoft Teams, allowing users to access contextual data in the Alation Data Catalog from Teams. The company already offers Alation Anywhere for Slack and Tableau. And the company’s Alation Connect Sheets software now supports Microsoft Excel to import data in real time into Excel Spreadsheets from various databases.