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        Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

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        Actuate Rides the Big-Data Wave

        Actuate, the driving force behind the open source Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project, is positioning itself in the center of the big-data world through multiple partnerships with companies such as Cloudera, Hortonworks, KXEN, Pervasive and a number of OEMs. These agreements, following on its acquisition of Xenos a couple of years ago, help Actuate address some big issues in big data, involving enterprise integration and closed-loop operational systems that provide what my colleague Robert Kugel refers to as action-oriented information technology systems. Today, most initiatives in big data and Hadoop are still in the proof-of-concept stages or being implemented in organizational siloes. Actuate, with its enterprise orientation and federated architecture, is in a position to potentially advance these efforts in a variety of ways.

        Actuate’s back-to-back announcements with Cloudera and Hortonworks give support to the 1.5 million BIRT developers and begin to solidify the ties between the BIRT and Hadoop open source communities. Actuate first announced support for Hadoop with the release of BIRT 3.7 last year when it gave BIRT developers access to Hadoop through Hive Query Language (HQL). Hive allows BIRT native access to Hadoop as a data source and provides a single interface for analysis and reporting across a variety of multistructured data sources. These steps answer the finding in our benchmark research onHadoop and Information Management that users require more efficient methods to access Hadoop HDFS. The overall result of the partnerships is out-of-the-box access for the two leading distributions of Hadoop, enabling organizations to integrate big data more easily into their BIRT environments.

        In the analytics and visualization space, Actuate signed agreements withPervasive and KXEN. RushAnalyzer, Pervasive’s predictive analytics tool that runs natively on Hadoop, will be integrated with the ActuateOne product suite. The combination of Rush Analyzer and ActuateOne gives business users the ability to transform and analyze big data, and puts advanced visualization capabilities in the hands of analysts. The KXEN partnership goes further into predictive analytics by integrating with KXEN’s flagship product, InfiniteInsight. This gives users capabilities in key areas of predictive analytics such as cross-selling and up-selling, churn analytics, next-best-offer and market basket analysis. Our benchmark research in big data finds that predictive analytics is a capability not available in 41 percent of organizations.

        Actuate’s OnDemand software is delivered via both PaaS and SaaS. Here Actuate has signed deals with a number of companies, including BMC Software, Cisco, Computer Associates, GE Healthcare, Infor and Siemens, and more recently with Access Data, eMeter and Integrated Data Services. In all, Actuate has more than 200 OEM partnerships, which are of particular importance as companies and developers turn toward the cloud for big-data platform development. Ourbenchmark research in big data shows that while most current deployments are on-premises, hosted and SaaS deployments will grow faster moving forward.

        In addition to the multiple partnerships, Actuate is positioned to ride the big-data wave with Xenos, a content management company it acquired in 2010. Integration with Xenos Enterprise Server allows BIRT developers to design a user front end for powerful parsing technology that enables mining of multistructured data buried in legacy documents and archives of statements, forms and records.

        Overall, I see a three-pronged big-data strategy emerging from Actuate. On one front, it offers an enterprise business intelligence system that easily builds reports using any source of data. A large and growing developer community provides the company with the ability to explore all types of relationships and adjust quickly and nimbly to competitors. On the second level, Actuate provides OEM application developers the ability to invoke broad BI functionality within their own custom applications. This will likely prove to be more important as companies move to cloud-based technologies and closed-loop operational intelligence systems that can drive immediate action within a single desktop or mobile interface. In these first two areas, Actuate is at home in terms of its targets in the enterprise, being well-known among enterprise application developers.

        It’s on the third front where I think things get interesting for the company, Actuate’s Performance Analytics software, which my colleague Mark Smithwrote about earlier this year. This application focuses on the lines of business and competes with some discovery tools in the market that have already gained traction. Given the shifting landscape of the enterprise buying center with respect to big data, this group is very important as our big data benchmark research has found. The key for Actuate will be to link big data and predictive analytics capabilities that they gain through partner relationships back to its growing business analytics environment operating across the Internet to the mobile environment. If the company can do so, it will position itself well in business environments where analytics need to be pushed out to support real-time and interactive decision-making by front-line managers.


        Tony Cosentino – VP & Research Director


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