More Analytics in the Cloud

Here is a company called www.birst.com which does this- upload data, crunch and share it.

 

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Other softwares include Cloudbase released by www.business.com and available at http://cloudbase.sourceforge.net/

"CloudBase is a data warehouse system for Terabyte and Petabyte scale analytics. It is built on top of Map-Reduce architecture. The current code has been developed to Hadoop‘s map-reduce implementation. CloudBase allows you to query flat log files using ANSI SQL. It comes with JDBC driver so you can use any JDBC database manager application (e.g Squirrel) as front end. CloudBase is developed by Business.com and is released to open source community under GNU General Public License 2.0." 

 

A third product is Vertica , which can be seen here http://www.vertica.com/cloud

 

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The benefits are "

Vertica Analytic Database for the Cloud is an on-demand version of Vertica’s blazingly fast, grid-enabled columnar database hosted on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. The pay-as-you-go offering enables companies to create large, high-performance analytic data marts without upfront data center costs and delays.

Built for the Cloud
Vertica is the only cloud-based analytic database with the following innovations, which enable it to manage terabytes of data faster and more reliably than any other cloud database:

  • “Scale-out” grid architecture – handles changing workloads as elastically as the cloud
  • Aggressive data compression – keeps storage costs low
  • Automatic K-Safety – provides replication, failover and recovery in the cloud

New Business Intelligence Possibilities
Vertica for the Cloud completely changes the economics of BI, making it possible to rapidly
initiate a much broader spectrum of analytic projects and businesses:

  • Ad-hoc and short-lived business analytic projects
  • New analytic Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses
  • Vertica Analytic Database proof of concept projects

Benefits of Vertica for the Cloud:

  • Fastest “Time to Terabyte” – Fully provisioned and ready for loading within minutes
  • Fastest performance – 100x to 1000x faster than other cloud databases
  • Runs 24×7 – Automatic K-Safety makes Vertica the only failure-resilient analytic cloud DBMS
  • Lowest startup cost – No upfront hardware, data center or admin overhead. Just pay for database usage until you’re done, then stop paying for it
  • Painless scalability – Scales seamlessly as data volume changes
  • Smallest footprint – Compresses data up to 90% to lower costs and improve performance
  • Proven platform – Hosted by Amazon, within their proven data center

"

 

But if you want to directly start experimenting with the Amazon Ec2 , costs are not verey high. Remember it is a pay as you go system. As an analytics supplier looking to cut costs , the cloud computing paradigm seems the fastest way to do so.

http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/

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Good Data

I have written in the past about efforts by Microsoft ( using SQL Server at http://www.sqlserverdatamining.com/cloud/) and the data browser ( at www.kirix.com ).

I have also written about my framework for using R based cloud computing.

Here is something exciting – Its from the founder of NetBeans and its called www.gooddata.com ) . The concept is simple and powerful and the company does have credentials to back it up. Again it’s a free trial so check it out –

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A Program for Terrorists

Unlike other Indian Bloggers, this one is not about the Mumbai attacks. I have stayed in those hotels , including once taking my then pregnant wife on a moon light horse ridden carriage in front of it. This is not about it all –

Here is a fascinating new program for "catching terrorist networks". Its from the Dulles Research Group, which also makes the Base SAS to Java Compiler (see below)

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A Base SAS to Java Compiler

Here is a nice SAS to Java compiler. It basically cuts away at the problem of executing legacy SAS code, SAS training and focusses on executing the tasks in Java thus making them much faster.

It’s available at http://dullesopen.com/

And its free for personal use.And academic use.

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I quote from the website "

Carolina Benefits

Converting Base SAS® to Java with Carolina provides two main benefits to enterprises:

  • Savings on license fees. Carolina costs about 70% less than SAS.
  • Performance gains. Carolina-converted code runs significantly faster than the native SAS program.

Additional Benefits

  • Greater flexibility. Java is an industry-standard environment that runs on all platforms. It is much easier to support than the legacy SAS environment it replaces.
  • Better integration. Carolina, as a Java application, supports web services through true J2EE integration.
  • Flawless automated conversion. Eliminate time-consuming, error-prone manual conversion.
  • Simpler contracts. Carolina is licensed in a simple, straightforward fashion.
  • Reduced training costs. Carolina-converted programs can be understood by analysts without training in SAS, and SAS-trained analysts don’t need to learn a new programming language."

Some Business Analytics Questions

My presentation at the Timesgroup office went well. I have uploaded a copy on to the Google Docs and it can be viewed here http://docs.google.com/Presentation?docid=dcvss358_324cfhpg7cv&hl=en

Some questions that came out of the discussion were –

 

1) Businesses are aligned in types of products that can be sold ? 

What are the 5 top segments of customers ( irrespective of product) that come to your website

2) Cross Sell- What are the top 10 products ( irrespective of whether you own them or not) that can be sold to your customer database

3) Who are the top dis satisfied customers of your competitors ?

4) Businesses change every year . How many times are reporting systems over hauled completely to reflect the change – say once in six months?

5) How many employees go in for self funded  training once a year ?

Overall , a great discussion and hopefully it helps you answer the above questions too.

Life Mojo – A Health Startup

Here is a Banglore, India based startup that tries to goad you into monitoring your weight, diet ,exercise and overall health. At fist I thought it is one of those pesky websites that require a load of information to tell you stuff you already knew. But I was wrong- this is a surprisingly nifty website with a cool design that helps you sum up and track your health on a daily basis. Here is an interview I did with the CEO of www.lifemojo.com , Namit Nangia

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1) What gave you the idea of Life Mojo. 

Well, it is an interesting story, I got a chance to meet Dr. Shikha Sharma (a renowned weight management and health expert) as a Technology Advisor. Dr Sharma wanted a solution for a few problems that existed in her business. After that meeting and after seeing Adnan Sami lose weight, I tried losing weight and was able to lose 11 Kgs in 45 days (which I soon regained).

On analysis of this successful weight loss, the LifeMojo team realized that the key was constant monitoring of what I ate, my fitness regimen, and an eye on my weight. But the problem was that I soon regained weight. The team looked around and found a lot of similar people and a solution to this problem. The solution is right diet consultation, as per one’s body composition and meal preferences. But this right advice is (1) expensive, (2) inconvenient due to the traveling involved (3) inaccessible, since good nutrition experts who understand one’s meal preferences are not easy to find. And thus as a solution to all these problems, LifeMojo was born.

LifeMojo started as a B2B solution for health experts and then got evolved into the present B2C product where people can plan and track their lifestyle and analyze how to have a healthier lifestyle.

How does it work.

On LifeMojo you can start by analyzing your body and lifestyle. You can learn more about your body, daily calorie intake, etc. We have tools that enable you to plan your diet and exercise schedule depending on your analysis, and track them to see the amount of calories you consume and burn. This continuous monitoring of your lifestyle would help you achieve your fitness goals faster.

Do you have international ( non Indian visitors)

Yes, there have been international (non Indian) visitors on LifeMojo (though not a significant number), most of them have discovered LifeMojo by Google searches on topics like running and diet tips.

2) What prompted for you to choose startups rather than work for mainstream IT companies.

I have had a lot of ideas that I wanted to work on, since my third year at NSIT. In order to make them a reality I thought I would have to gain experience on making a product end to end, so I worked for Trilogy (one of the mainstream IT company) for 2 years which was a great learning experience. After that I co-founded a company called MyDuniya and soon realized an idea or a product by itself is not the only thing that one needs to run a company. I decided to work at a startup Flightraja (now known as Via), founded by few of my friends at Trilogy, and experienced how to build and grow a business around a product. I worked there for 1.5 years and learned a lot about what it takes to build a successful company. Around 6 months back I along with other 2 friends Varun (who has been with me since NSIT and we have been working together in the same companies there after) and Himanshu (who has been a great mentor and friend while I was working at Trilogy) started LifeMojo.

So in short we have always wanted to try out our Ideas and a good mix of experiences from mainstream IT company, startup and previous venture is what we have to build and grow LifeMojo.

3) I noticed all founders of life Mojo went to the same college and worked at the same company. How important is this chemistry in founding a startup.

I have seen examples of both for and against "starting a company with friends", but for us having a good chemistry and understanding about each other’s strengths and weaknesses has been very helpful. There are times in a startup when things aren’t as

Continue reading “Life Mojo – A Health Startup”

Book Extract – Movies in a Austin Mall

On the second last in Austin, I had nothing much to do. I headed out for the nearby movie theatre in the GateWay Mall near Austin Arboretum. It was Friday afternoon and the traffic was just about to pick up for the multiplex theater. I bough two tickets , one for Max Payne ( in the afternoon ) and the other for the new Oliver Stone Presidential Movie , W ( based on George W Bush).

The tickets cost some 7 $ and 9 $ , and that seemed a lot compared to the Indian multiplexes that cost around 150 rs or 3 $. Thanks to this I decided to fore go my boss’s advice on eating pop corn or sodas ( mostly Coke). Instead I would just grab a bite in the evening social.

On entering the movie theatre – I was really astounded. I mean the theater was BIG, it had some 20 odd screens. Easily the biggest theater I even went to- but that point would be lost if you see the new upcoming theatres in India. For the first fifteen minutes I actually went up and down the place looking for the screen which I was supposed to be seated in. Finally I found the place.

Max Payne starred the Oscar winning actor Mark Wahlberg ( of the Departed and Marky Mark fame) so I was hoping to watch a decent all male violent action standard Hollywood movie. The theatre hall was a bit deserted , which is understandable for an afternoon flick and there were some couples ( looking like teenagers) giggling and murmuring in the edges of the back rows. That was something that is now universal and so I turned attention to the screen.

The movie was preceded by a song by Kid Rock , which mixed Nascar racing Iraq War glimpses and good old rock into a heady recruitment song called ” The Warrior”. I could see the middle class kids in front of me, especially the male ones, nod their heads to the catchy tune.Heck, I would have signed up for the National Guard , bu the time the song ended.

Fortunately, the movie began, and we settled down to watch Mark Wahlberg, one fine young actor of the male violent genre get into his role of an avenging detective on the run, while paired with a beautiful girl. The plot was as predictable as a Bollywood movie with none of the song and dances unfortunately.

Max Payne lived up to its name. It pained me to the maximum extent. After watching the bizarre tale (it’s based on a video game) the audience and I couldn’t help but rushing out for a breath of fresh air – as if eager to leave the countless explosions behind us. As I brushed against one white teenager, he looked at me and said- ” Man, best movie I ever saw”. That sardonic comment almost made up for the time wasted.

I walked back to the Hyatt Austin Arboretum. I bumped into the front desk lady, Paris , who was nice ,pleasant and around 40 sh. ” So how was the movie and which movie did you see ?”.

“Max Payne-dd” I said, stressing the D a bit too loud. ” But that’s a terrible movie, said Paris. My son watched it yesterday and it’s all weird”.

“Great, I thought. There goes 7 dollars.

I am watching “W” next, I told Paris. ” Now that’s an interesting movie, said the front desk lady. ” Best of Luck”.

I was thinking of taking a plateful of turkey ( no religion aggravating beef , no stomach aggravating ham) and a beer glass from the free 5 o clock social, but it turned out to be Friday with no social for that day. The quantity of food served and wasted in America had ceased amazing me a week back.

After a brief rest, I went back for the seven O Clock and the Nine dollar movie.

Now a bit of background about W. The time of watching this movie was October 2008, the atmosphere was charged up with Obama and McCain in a fierce battle to be the inheritor of crisis-es from the current United States President.Texas , Austin is almost all white , with a smattering of Hispanic people ( who mostly do the lower end jobs – it seemed like an agreement to divide labor not unlike our caste system in India).

George W Bush was a popular Texas two time Governor until 1999, and the state of Texas is considered a red state ( it mostly votes Republican – who have a red color). The tendency of the media to paint the country red, blue,purple,white,black,yellow ( but fortunately not brown) led to a feverish charged up atmosphere.

I went in the hall with trepidation- halfexpecting to be lynched if the movie turned bad.

What followed was sheer Hollywood magic as George W Bush’s Yale University classmate delivered a subtle yet powerful movie.

To be continued-

This is anextract from the book ” Flying with the Cougars” . I am publishing extracts as an experiment. All rights and copying rights reserved with Ajay Ohri.