Startup Zoomdata is getting attention for being the developers of the fastest visual analytics solution for Big Data. Their cutting edge technology allows its non-data scientist users to see data in more useful ways at a speed faster than anything else on the market today. Startup founder of four previous companies and CEO, Justin Langseth, lets us in on the specifics of their advanced data visualization technology in this interview.
What is Zoomdata’s founding story? What problem were you trying to solve when you decided to re-focus the concept of big data?
What I saw was a major upcoming shift in the form factor of analytics and business intelligence. The old tools were designed for a previous generation of relational data – the Excel paradigm – of much smaller datasets and monolithic / three tier deployments. They were highly specialized and unusable by non-data scientists and would choke on the data volumes and speed requirements of today’s distributed systems.
The vision for Zoomdata was to bring business intelligence (BI) and analytics up to speed with the modern requirements of visualizing Big Data streams alongside traditional data. My belief was that BI and analytics needed to be more responsive, context driven, and deployable to modern microservices architecture and embeddable in applications.
In a previous article, you stated that Zoomdata makes analyzing big data more user-friendly and more beautiful for non-technical users. How do you accomplish this?
To make Big Data useful you have to make it small, useful and contextual. Yesterday’s analytics and BI tools were designed for data scientists, requiring complicated data mapping and other complicated steps before business users could explore data.
We’ve created technology approaches that support “speed of thought” interaction with data. Business users don’t always know what type of questions they want to ask. One question leads to another and it’s this iterative style of querying that leads to the best insights. We allow users to manipulate charts and re-run queries against very large data sets. The DVR- type of pause, play, and rewind functionality allows for much faster iteration and manipulation in the discovery process.
To make this interactive querying possible for users, it starts with a streaming architecture built on Apache Spark that makes fusing data from Big Data and legacy data stores possible. We’ve got “data sharpening” patents for our unique methods for achieving the real-time aspect of how users can modify queries and get results at blazing speeds.
You currently have partnerships with huge Big Data companies like Cloudera and Hortonworks. How did you gain so much traction in Silicon Valley when you’re located more than 2,500 miles away in Reston, Virginia? What’s it like working with such big companies and how has that affected your startup?
We got some nice visibility out of the gates as a company that really optimizes analytics for Big Data with native support for Hadoop components like Impala and Hive on Tez. Our early adoption of Spark also put us in tight company with organizations like Databricks and IBM. We also opened an office pretty early on in Silicon Valley.
What are your goals while you are in Cisco EIR?
Cisco has made the Internet of Things a strategic pillar. We are excited to work closely with various parts of the company to optimize Zoomdata for integration with their emerging stack, including critical technologies like Cisco DV, ParStream, InterCloud, and beyond.
The typical enterprise today is dealing with a combination of Big Data, relational data, real-time and historical data — that is deployed both on-premise, and across a combination of public and private clouds. Zoomdata and Cisco have a shared vision of helping our customers implement solutions built on a streaming architecture, and together we can help them deliver powerful data-driven analytic applications that can fundamentally impact their business performance.
What is your #1 advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do it. Don’t wait for a perfect moment because there will never be one. Once you’ve gained some experience and have some idea what you’re doing, if you want to start a company, go ahead and do it.
What do you do to unwind?
I enjoy sailboat racing–the teamwork, strategy, and tactics that’s involved closely mimic startup life. In fact, we have used sailing regattas as team-building events for our company.