RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Kalido Reborn

Data warehousing specialist Kalido and business intelligence stalwart Noetix have been merged into a new meta-entity: Magnitude Software.

Data warehousing (DW) specialist Kalido has kept a low-profile of late, which isn't surprising: in October 2013, holding company Silverback Enterprise Group acquired Kalido lock, stock, and Burlington, Mass. Headquarters after acquiring BI vendor Noetix Inc. the previous June. BI professionals assumed that Silverback intended to package Kalido and Noetix together as an end-to-end BI offering, but no one was talking.

All of this is to set the stage for what happened this year, when the former Kalido showed up at TDWI's World Conference in Chicago with a new branding: Magnitude Software, the official name of the combined Kalido and Noetix, notes Kalido veteran John Evans, director of marketing with the new entity.

At TDWI Chicago, however, Evans and his colleague, Stephen Pace, a principal presales consultant with Magnitude Software (and, before that, with Kalido) both were and weren't talking up the Magnitude Software merger. Kalido and Noetix had merged into Magnitude Software in April, Evans told BI This Week, but the fledging company was (in early May) still working on its branding and marketing.

"We have about 10 products [at Kalido], [and] if you add the six to eight products that Noetix had in with those [Kalido] products, you have 600 active customers and a couple of hundred thousand users in 100 countries across the world," said Evans, who notes that the management structure of the new Magnitude Software is very much a hybrid entity: Magnitude's president (Nigel Turner) is a Kalido veteran, but its CFO (Doug Moore) comes from Noetix. On the technology side, too, Magnitude draws leadership from both companies (the respective vice presidents of engineering for its Noetix and Kalido products hail from Noetix and Kalido, respectively).

"There isn't a significant amount of overlap between Noetix customers and Kalido customers. We think there are opportunities, actually," Evans continued. "Maybe Noetix customers need to do more types of reporting against other data sources, so that's where we at Kalido could help them."

"We're going to focus on that end-to-end process, always in the service of giving more flexibility and self-service, more [access to] data sources to end users. Right now, we don't have an end-to-end tool for consuming the data [from Kalido to Noetix], but that's something we're talking about," said Evans, who noted that Noetix can today consume information from Kalido -- as can BI tools from IBM Corp. (Cognos), MicroStrategy Corp., Oracle Corp., SAP AG (BusinessObjects), and others.

An Apt Time and Purpose?

Kalido's pitch was always difficult to articulate -- at least to people who haven't grappled with the problem of designing, building, maintaining, and of changing a data warehouse.

Kalido, along with competitors BIReady Inc., timeXtender Software, and WhereScape Inc., market so-called "data warehouse automation," or DWA, tools. DWA emphasizes what its proponents call "intelligent" automation: not, they protest, automation for automation's sake, but automation as a tool to eliminate tedious, repetitive, or rote tasks (e.g., creating documentation or metadata; the time-consuming and often elaborate process of designing a physical data model; much of the work of data integration; and the tedium of dev-testing). In other words, proponents argue, DWA aims to automate the kinds of stuff that can and should be efficaciously automated.

Even though the former Kalido is now part of a larger company, Evans said Magnitude Software will continue to market Kalido's technology -- particularly now that there's some momentum behind DWA. "This is what Kalido's been doing from the beginning. We've always focused on adding automation capabilities to take over and do the manual, repetitive tasks that we have to do [in data warehousing]. This used to mean having fewer people rooting around through hairball ETL code to find the jobs that need to be changed to acquire a new data source or to add a new column to a report," said Evans. "Now we even talk about eliminating ETL [itself]."

Each of these companies has a different take on what automation means, on what should be automated, on how it should be automated, and so on. In fact, TDWI's Data Warehouse Automation course -- which has been offered twice (so far) this year, and which will be offered again at TDWI's Boston and San Diego conferences -- features brief walkthrough sessions on the ins and outs of using all four tools. Generally speaking, DWA tools focus on business-driven design and development -- although not all DWA players are comfortable with this terminology. (For example, WhereScape CEO Michael Whitehead likes to say that his company's RED tool permits business and IT stakeholders to collaborate together to prototype, build, and evolve -- by rapidly iterating -- a warehouse design.

WhereScape describes this approach, which emphasizes ongoing collaboration between business and IT, and which Whitehead says is led -- and frequently initiated -- by the business, as "data-driven." This seems to be an issue of semantic disagreement.) Generally, however, all DWA tools emphasize the importance of getting business and IT people together; of achieving a shared understanding of the business (its operations, its major processes, and its strategic priorities); of more quickly developing and optimizing -- by traditional means, or by rapidly iterating using agile methods -- a warehouse; and of producing warehouse systems that are easier to manage and more amenable to (i.e., resilient and adaptable in the face of) changing events.

Kalido's pitch focuses on developing a conceptual model of the business and its operations that maps to, and which can actually change, an underlying physical model. When you're designing a warehouse, the logical model you build is an inert thing: it lives on a whiteboard, or in Visio and PowerPoint, and it can't change anything. This logical model gives you a means to relate business processes, rules, entities, etc. with physical resources -- but it stops there. In the Kalido scheme, business and IT stakeholders work together to produce a business model -- basically, a conceptual model or a high-level representation of the business -- that maps to an underlying physical model. What's more, if you make a change to Kalido's business model -- e.g., change a rule or reorganize a process flow -- that change will be reflected in the underlying physical model.

"We can help automate all of that, from building a [business] model to having a metadata repository that stores the business rules, to doing impact analysis -- [e.g.,] now that the model has changed, you have a foreign dimension here, now you're going to have to have five more columns -- to automatically generating a semantic layer," said Kalido veteran Pace, who noted that Kalido's business/conceptual model might be seen as analogous to a semantic layer. "We can automatically generate a BusinessObjects universe for you based on this original model of all of the business definitions that we created with all of the friendly names, non-technical names."

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