Journey to Apache Spark Background

Our Winter ’15…our the little black dress

March 4, 2016
· 4 min read

In November 2015, we rolled out our Winter ’15 release. As our customers have gotten their hands on it, their feedback has inspired me to write my own perspective.

Personally, I think we may have named the release wrong. Instead of “Winter ’15,” we should have called it: Enterprise-Grade Platform, the Little Black Dress (also known as the “LBD”).  Why, you ask? Glad you did. The release included authentication and authorization features that are classic and essential, combined with sexy, smart, data exploration and go-to features every analyst needs.

Even as Paxata sprints forward inventing and perfecting new machine learning techniques, new powerful transformation features, new self-service data quality tools, and new level of scale to billions of rows of dirty data – we know that business analysts work with many different software applications within their environment, they don’t work alone, and they have to trust the data they are working with.

In 2007 I had the privilege to work closely with Microsoft’s Active Directory team to understand user and group identity administration. Customers from the world’s largest companies taught me how deeply important enterprise-level security, authentication/authorization and centralized management are for any responsible and professional organization. (Shout out to Darren Mar-Elia, Group Policy Guy!) 

Starting at the beginning: Authentication (logging in, signing on, getting started). Paxata’s Winter ‘15 release smoothly integrates into existing enterprise infrastructure with LDAP integration, so credentials within the organization for other business-critical applications are recognized for Paxata as well.

We immediately got feedback from admins and analysts alike how much they loved not having to create any additional usernames or remember any additional passwords. For them, this is a tangible way to reduce anger in the workplace (well, they called it “reducing friction” but I know what they mean). Less time searching around for a lost password equals reducing time to insights, ultimately more time doing analysis.

We also had a CISO customer validate that this was critical to help him protect his world-wide organization from security vulnerabilities, maintain order with a centralized system, and securely deploy Paxata to new business units or individuals with ease. For him, these capabilities are table-stakes for vendors who wants to be more than a cool science project at enterprises like his.

Paxata’s Winter ‘15 release also gives customers Single Sign on for Paxata, storing analyst credentials to be securely recalled for the naturally iterative subsequent sessions doing data prep. Our customers with external data sources and downstream BI tools love that they can hop from text files, to data prep projects, to dashboards and back with no interruption of a login screen within a work day.

LDAP integration extends beyond simply authentication to include Authorization – the right people seeing the right resources at the right times. And with Paxata as a business-critical application, analysts need to know that they are working on their datasets and data preparation projects securely. One of our retail customers has 20 supply-chain forecasters who need to know that the data they are working will be accessible to their colleagues are in the pricing group as soon as it’s clean.

Group Management. Analysts don’t work alone; they work across geographies, lines of business, and organizational units to get their analytics work done. People switch teams within an organization, start or stop a project on an hour’s notice – and all of this has to be managed securely by an IT department swamped with constantly changing requirements.  

Paxata’s Winter ‘15 release embraced LDAP integration to map roles and groups from the enterprise environment to Paxata for the always up-to-date access levels for resources. Unlike disconnected desktop applications, Paxata’s browser-based interface ensures perfect synchronization between the source of truth and any person’s experience. No security loopholes, no time lag to getting things done.

One of our financial services customers told us specifically that all Paxata analysts trust the resources they have access to, confident that their colleagues have the right access they need to transform, explore, or publish data as needed.  

An administrator for a major high-tech company talked about how his team has been able to smoothly deploy Paxata to teams in various business units around the world while still managing roles, groups, and access levels in a unified place in a secure and well-managed way.

(And of course Paxata supports Active Directory. It’s also classic!)

Just like the little black dress, our customers have made the Winter ‘15 release a go-to every day – it’s the reason we continue to push the envelope on our capabilities. Try to wear us out!

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