Old IBM

SiSense did some major head turning at the O’Riely Strata Conference in February, eventually taking home the Audience Award after demonstrating that it could analyze 10 terabytes of data in 10 seconds using a single run of the mill $10,000 Dell server node.

Today, on the strength of this level of technical performance and following a year in which the three year old the Business Intelligence (BI) and data analytics startup grew revenue by 520 percent, it’s not surprising to hear that it has raised $10 million in Series B financing. The latest round was led by Battery Ventures with participation from Opus Capital and Genesis Partners.

SiSense’s Prism platform and its Elasticube analytical database maximize computational power by using a combination of in-memory, in-chip, and disk-based processing. Combining this hardware utilization with columnar databases and ETL (extract, transform, and load) tools allows the company to process data 50 to 100 times faster than its competition, legacy BI providers like IBM and Oracle. Moreover, it achieves this performance using commodity, “off-the-shelf” hardware. Individually, none of these techniques are unique to SiSense, but in combination, they put the company’s solution in a class of its own.

“If you’ve been wrestling with the size limitations of other tools, do yourself a favor and try SiSense,” Groupon Director of Analytics David Gerster says. “There’s nothing else on the market that crunches big data so easily and inexpensively.”

Prism is a full BI stack that can be deployed on premise or in the cloud, and offers point-and click interaction as well as built-in HTML5- and JavaScript-based visualizations that allow its users to interact with data from any desktop or mobile browser. The system allows for automatic extraction from major databases including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, QuickBase, and data from Hadoop/Hive, as well as the who’s who of applications like Salesforce, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Google Spreadsheets, Zendesk, and QuickBooks.

With the vast majority of the world’s businesses hosting between 0.5 and 100 terabytes of data, Prism eliminates the need for companies to invest in and maintain complex and expensive Hadoop clusters and data warehouses better suited to handle petabytes. This next generation solution has already attracted 400 customers in 49 states, including Cisco, Samsung, Yahoo, Target, Merck, WeFi, Wix, and Uber.

Prism isn’t just about speed. The comprehensive BI system is designed for simplicity targeting usability by non-technical users. The software can be downloaded and implemented in a matter of minutes. As a result, two thirds of all of the company’s sales have been made to the business departments rather than the technical departments at its client companies.

“The newest trend in the enterprise is ‘bring your own BI,’” SiSense founder and CEO Amit Bendov says. “With legacy systems, it can take weeks to get a report, and the nature of reports is that once you get them, you need to make modifications. IT departments are starting to endorse a new approach by saying, ‘We can’t keep up with your request. Here’s the data. Here’s security access. Get your own reports.’”

Prism is offered on a free trial, with the ultimate subscription product priced according to a formula considering the number of seats and the data volume analyzed.

“Our biggest challenge right now is growing the sales force and the support teams quickly enough to keep up with the demand,” Bendov says.

He added that the company does not utilize an outside sales process, preferring to allow customers to find its product online, download and demo it on their own, and then speak to a company sales representative over the phone about purchasing a subscription. The average length of this sales cycle is a paltry by industry standards 90 days.

SiSense may be ahead of its competition at the moment, but computational power is ultimately a commodity and around which its competition can play catch up. As IBM and Oracle look to reinvent themselves for in the modern BI market, expect them to devote massive resources to duplicating SiSense’s hardware utilization and data visualization tricks. If it comes to that, the company will have the unenviable challenge of competing against these sales and support infrastructure offered by these massive and deep pocketed organizations.

SiSense didn’t go out seeking its latest financing round, but rather was approached by multiple firms the CEO says. He chose Battery as the lead based an existing relationship dating back to a previous company, and based on the firm’s understanding of and interest in the big data market. Bendov is adamant about staying independent long enough to pursue an IPO, and believes he’s found a match in this attitude in Battery.

“We’re looking at a $20 billion dollar market that hasn’t seen a disruption since the mid-90’s,” he says. “It’s hard to see at present how far reaching this technology will be.”

[Image source, IBM, WikiCommons]