Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Dalibor Siroky, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Scott Davis, Stackify Blog

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
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
From manual human effort the world is slowly paving its way to a new space where most process are getting replaced with tools and systems to improve efficiency and bring down operational costs. Automation is the next big thing and low code platforms are fueling it in a significant way. The Automation era is here. We are in the fast pace of replacing manual human efforts with machines and processes. In the world of Information Technology too, we are linking disparate systems, softwares and tool...
DevOps is good for organizations. According to the soon to be released State of DevOps Report high-performing IT organizations are 2X more likely to exceed profitability, market share, and productivity goals. But how do they do it? How do they use DevOps to drive value and differentiate their companies? We recently sat down with Nicole Forsgren, CEO and Chief Scientist at DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) and lead investigator for the State of DevOps Report, to discuss the role of measure...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
With continuous delivery (CD) almost always in the spotlight, continuous integration (CI) is often left out in the cold. Indeed, it's been in use for so long and so widely, we often take the model for granted. So what is CI and how can you make the most of it? This blog is intended to answer those questions. Before we step into examining CI, we need to look back. Software developers often work in small teams and modularity, and need to integrate their changes with the rest of the project code b...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud4U builds software services that help people build DevOps platforms for cloud-based software and using our platform people can draw a picture of the system, network, software," explained Kihyeon Kim, CEO and Head of R&D at Cloud4U, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...