Gathering big data, crunching it, storing it somewhere – all of this is relatively easy thanks to the Moore’s Law and the unstoppable march of storage technology. The difficulty with big data comes with trying to glean actual information from it, and turn it into something that people can work with and benefit from.
Enter Trifacta, the latest big data startup, which has just received funding from Accel Partners Big Data Fund to the tune of $4.3 million, and is effectively aiming to bridge that final frontier by revolutionizing data science, making the data itself easier to rearrange and manipulate.
Behind Trifacta is a team of computer scientists led by company CEO Joseph Hellerstein that is trying to pull of one of data science’s holiest of Holy Grails. Using their vast experience in data visualization, they’re trying to make big data accessible to everyone – not just the Ph.D level analysts out there.
“The real bottleneck with big data is the people, rather than the tools they’re using,” said Hellerstein in an interview with GigaOM.
To make big data easier to use, Trifacta is building an interface that can be used across multiple different platforms, from Hadoop clusters to traditional relational databases, which can be used to generate map reduce code or SQL queries that run against the actual processing and data storage systems being used.
Trifacta says that its goal is not just to make big data more accessible to the average user; it also intends to make the processing of data more efficient for data scientists too. The idea is that the user will be able to pull out a data – or a small sample of one – and use Trifacta’s interface to visualize it in numerous different ways. Users will be given a bunch of options they can perform each time they extract a data set, and Trifacta will even be able to preview what the effects that the operation will have. Once the user selects the operations to be performed, Trifacta then generates the queries or codes.
“Everyone’s building the [big data] freeways with Hadoop and NoSQL databases, and everyone wants access to the freeway,” said Accel partner Ping Li, chief of the company’s Big Data Fund.
Li explained that many companies already have lots of data stored away, but most don’t know how to use it to its potential. Trifacta, says Li, will act as an on-ramp that will allow those companies to finally clear up the bottleneck of all that data, by finally giving them a way to mine that data effectively.
Acting as an on-ramp, Trifacta won’t generate nearly as much credit as its more exciting peers. But Hellerstein says that this is exactly what he’s hoping for, and he doesn’t mind if Trifacta doesn’t get the glory it deserves:
“People think technology is all about building rocket ships, but technology is most useful for building things like washing machines that remove a lot of drudgery from everyday life.”