Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog, Kalyan Ramanathan, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Microservices Expo

Open Source Cloud: Article

Case Study: Open Source + Business Intelligence

A marriage made for data-driven businesses

Data-driven businesses are facing some tough challenges in today's rapidly changing information landscape. As decision cycles continue to shrink, companies need to act on information within hours and minutes rather than weeks and days. At the same time, the volume of data that needs to be analyzed is growing exponentially. Business intelligence (BI) approaches that might have made sense a decade or even five years ago may no longer be the best fit for organizations that must quickly and affordably make sense of terabytes of incoming data that shows no sign of slowing down.

For my company, MX Force, speedy data analysis is not simply a "nice to have," it's critical to our business. As a cloud-based provider of email security for organizations of all sizes, we need to identify the origins of spam, viruses and other potential threats for our clients, fast. But as our business has grown, so has the volume of email log data that we must store, filter, search, analyze and report on. Recently, we were challenged to find a database that could reliably enable quick and efficient ad-hoc queries on up to a year's worth of email log data. Our staff uses this data to analyze and report on statistical information, and we also give our clients the ability to query their own logs to diagnose mail delivery issues. It was important to find a database that could deliver the high performance we required, but affordability and ease of administration were also of vital concern. These considerations prompted us to seek an open source solution.

Open Source Meets Business Intelligence
MX Force uses a number of open source tools within our organization. The low cost of open source is one reason for this, but flexibility is another important driver. Because open source projects are community-driven, users can tweak, customize and tinker with the software as much as they like. This is a big advantage when it comes to business intelligence, as data analysis requirements can change quickly, and you don't want to have to wait weeks or months to get a new query set up or to change the parameters of those that are already running. MX Force was already using MySQL in our business, so we decided to try Infobright's open source analytic database, ICE (Infobright Community Edition.) ICE combines a columnar database with innovative compression and self-tuning capabilities that eliminate the need to create indexes, partition data or do any manual intervention to achieve fast response for queries and reports. The software is built on MySQL, so for us there was a very small implementation and training curve - ICE uses the same familiar MySQL interface. The fact that ICE is an open source analytic solution presented us with several key benefits:

  1. Deployment speed: The time from download and installation to first production use was just three weeks.
  2. Affordability: Many of the proprietary commercial BI solutions available today require custom configuration, expensive licensing agreements and equally expensive hardware to support and run it. Not only was ICE free to install, we could also run the software on inexpensive commodity servers, eliminating the need to invest in high performance servers and storage arrays. (Our entire workload is supported by a single quad-core server.)
  3. Simplicity and flexibility: Because ICE is open and standards-based, we can quickly make changes as needed without requiring extensive IT assistance. In addition, it's often a lot simpler to make fixes or upgrade an open source solution because an entire community contributes their expertise to fixing bugs and making improvements. With proprietary software, users have to wait for issues to be addressed by the vendor, which can take much longer.

MX Force is currently using ICE to quickly isolate mail flow problems and trends. In our experience, using a free, open source product has not in any way involved a compromise on performance or capabilities. We are achieving 10:1 data compression, which saves on storage costs and boosts performance. Most statistical queries render results in less than five seconds. Ongoing administration is simple. The net result is that the product delivers the fast query performance and reporting functionality we needed, at an incredibly low cost for hardware and ongoing maintenance.

Look, then Leap
Interested in giving open source a try for your BI and analytic efforts? There are a number of compelling benefits to doing so, but as with any type of software, it's also important to look before you leap. Evaluation and testing considerations are no different than they would be for licensed software - you want to make sure the solution has the features and capabilities most relevant to your business. Also, there's a difference between open source projects that are at a very early and experimental stage and software that is well established and has a vibrant and involved community behind it, strong vendor support, or both. Investigate the support offered for the solution under consideration. How often are new features added? Are bug fixes made in a timely manner? Is there useful and accurate supporting documentation?

With ICE, we were certainly attracted by the many resources and significant participation of both Infobright and the user community. We also knew there was a commercial version available if we decided we needed the additional functionality it offered or a formal support contract. For companies just jumping in to the open source arena, it's best to avoid tools that haven't yet cultivated a strong following. But even if you do make a mistake, the low (and usually free) cost of open source means that there's minimal risk.

The BI requirements of today's data-driven businesses demand speed, simplicity and affordability. As open source solutions continue to mature, it's worth looking at projects that are focused on analytics, BI and other data management activities. The more nimble and flexible approach embodied by open source may just be the best fit for addressing the many information management challenges driven by data growth and complexity.

More Stories By Mike Makowski

Mike Makowski is CTO of MX Force, a leading provider of email security in the cloud and member of Infobright’s Customer Advisory Council. More information about MX Force can be found at http://www.mxforce.com/

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Logs are continuous digital records of events generated by all components of your software stack – and they’re everywhere – your networks, servers, applications, containers and cloud infrastructure just to name a few. The data logs provide are like an X-ray for your IT infrastructure. Without logs, this lack of visibility creates operational challenges for managing modern applications that drive today’s digital businesses.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...