SiSense can crunch big data even on small machines

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SiSense, one of the new breed of business intelligence providers, hopes to differentiate itself from the pack with clever technology that can quickly crunch a large volume of data. Like the others, it's also playing up the simplicity of its service.

SiSense, which is announcing $30 million in new funding, takes advantage of today's chips by using the chip's memory in addition to a machine's disk and RAM. The result, SiSense says, is that its software can analyze a lot of data at a much quicker speed than most other products that don't use a chip's memory. In fact, it says that SiSense can run on a machine as small as a laptop, crunching terabytes of data.

The company offers just the right combination of the old BI tools and the new, said Amit Bendov, SiSense's CEO.

"Traditional BI software is robust but complicated and not too user friendly. Then the newer generation, like Qlik or Tableau, are much easier to use but they can't handle the range of requirements that the older tools have," he said.

SiSense lets non-technical people analyze data that comes from multiple data sources and easily share their analysis with colleagues, he said.

The company sells directly to executives in lines of business like finance, marketing, operations, and sales, not to IT departments, he said. It counts eBay, ESPN, and Comcast among customers.  

The software can be run on a server on-premises or hosted by SiSense on Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Rackspace. While SiSense calls its cloud offering software-as-a-service because it is subscription based, it's not a true multi-tenant offering. Oddly, SiSense doesn't seem to make any mention of the hosted offering on its Web site, although it has issued press releases about the ability to run the software on services including Azure and Rackspace.

The hosted version has been attractive to departments within large businesses, Bendov said. "They don't want to deal with IT," he said. The finance department of a Fortune 100 company is using the hosted version, with the permission of IT but because the company didn't have to buy new hardware or manage anything internally, he said.

Other relatively new entrants to the BI market, like Good Data and Birst, are delivering full software-as-a-service offerings. For users, there's probably not a lot of difference between using Birst, for instance, or SiSense in terms of how it's accessed online. For the BI providers, however, it's much more efficient to run a service in a true, multi-tenant SaaS environment then to simply host software for users. If more businesses shift to using cloud-based BI products, SiSense could be in the same position as the traditional BI vendors which will have to rewrite their applications for true, multi-tenant cloud offerings. 

SiSense will use the $30 million investment to continue to add sales and marketing people and to accelerate product development, he said. DFJ Growth led the round. SiSense raised $10 million in funding last April from Battery Ventures, Opus Capital, and Genesis Partners.

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