Startup Spotlight: Xplenty's Data Integration Service
Though Israeli startup Xplenty started out selling Hadoop-as-a-service, it won more customer interest by focusing on what its solution did rather than the underlying technology engine.
It's hard to read a technology publication – including this one – without encountering multiple mentions of Hadoop, but it's a different story in your average office cubicle. That realization led Xplenty, an Israeli startup that provides a cloud-based data integration service that works with Hadoop, to change its marketing materials.
"We originally talked about Hadoop-as-a-service, but we found that data people and BI people couldn't care less about Hadoop, they just wanted to know what they could do with our solution," said Xplenty co-founder and CEO Yaniv Mor. "So instead of selling Hadoop-as-a-service, we decided to focus on what we actually do with Hadoop, which is Big Data processing and Big Data integration on the cloud."
After tweaking the messaging on its website, Mor said Xplenty's inbound leads increased and also "became more relevant."
Big Data Maturing
Mor believes Big Data and Hadoop are reaching a point in the maturity curve where the rubber meets the road, a development he said will favor companies like his. "Companies do not care about the hype; they are more focused on what you can actually do with it," he said.
While the data integration service that Mor and co-founder Saggi Neumann built utilizes Hadoop's processing power, it enables users to create data pipelines without writing a line of code or knowing anything about Hadoop, Mor said. Inspiration struck after they witnessed firsthand the difficulty data professionals had in trying to work with Hadoop.
"They were used to working with easy-to-use tools and platforms, and all of a sudden they were being asked to work with a console and black-and-white screens and to start writing code," he said.
Three months ago, Xplenty snagged $3 million from investment firms Waarde Capital and Magma Venture Partners in a Series A funding round. Mor said the Tel Aviv-based company will use part of the cash to establish a physical presence in North America, probably in this year's third quarter. While it's possible to build a software-as-a-service business like Xplenty with a low-touch sales model, Mor said it's time to expand the physical sales force. The R&D team will remain in Tel Aviv, a common business model for Israeli technology companies, he said.
Founded about two-and-a-half years ago, Xplenty has grown from just two employees – Mor and Neumann – to 11 and built a roster of 20 customers, including online marketplace provider Fiverr and shopping app vendor DealPly Technologies. Most of Xplenty's customers are companies of a few hundred employees, Mor said. A common customer trait: They see data as a competitive advantage.
"I would define them as fast growing," he said. "They have lots and lots of data to crunch; they are very data driven and willing to invest in it. They see data as a necessity for remaining competitive."
Xplenty's customers are showing a growing interest in using what Mor calls "micro-services," a collection of small cloud services, to build their data infrastructures. Xplenty is currently available on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Rackspace, IBM SoftLayer and the Google Cloud Platform, and Mor said it's possible the company will add Microsoft's Azure platform this year.
Xplenty will add a private cloud solution in hopes of winning the business of larger enterprises that prefer to store their data in relatively private environments. Even larger enterprises will move toward using the public cloud to meet spikes in demand and in other instances where it is it necessary to quickly add data infrastructure, Mor said.
"With our solution you can provision infrastructure where you want it, in a private or public cloud, with a single service interface to handle both infrastructure layers," he said.
Also on Xplenty's roadmap: The company is expanding its integration capabilities so companies can collect and integrate data from popular Web services such as Google Analytics and Salesforce.
"One of the challenges of Big Data is integrating data from disparate sources to try to get to some kind of coherent view of what your data looks like, what your business looks like," Mor said. "We want to help companies solve that challenge."
Fast Facts about Xplenty
Founders: Yaniv Mor and Saggi Neumann
Product: Data processing and data integration in the cloud
HQ: Tel Aviv, Israel
Customers: 20, including Fiverr and DealPly Technology
Funding: $3 million, with investors including Waarde Capital and Magma Venture Partners
Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.