ClearStory Data has launched a data analytics service that the company says is one of the first to offer a core back-end technology that includes rich visuals and sharing capabilities. On the back-end, ClearStory has a platform for integrating a company's internal and external data using an in-memory database technology, said CEO Sharmila Shahani-Mulligan in a phone interview this week. This can be relational or NoSQL data, point-of-sale information or demographic statistics from external sources. Its advantage is in the ability to process multiple types of data on the fly and then combine that with a modern user interface. ClearStory leverages Apache Spark, an open-source clustering system for its in-memory technology. Companies that use Spark include Yahoo!, Autodesk and Groupon. With Spark, ClearStory is able to achieve the sub-second response times that come with in-memory computing. Customers create stories that displays the data in a dashboard. These stories can then be shared and modified. ClearStory certainly has a strong foundation. Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures and Google Ventures have invested $9 million into the company. The experience for the platform was led by Douglas van der Molen, the former Google architect who managed the user experience for Google Analytics, Google AdWords and other Google Ads products. Google Emeritus Shona Brown is a strategic advisor. To make the experience simple is still a feat for most companies that provide data analytics platforms that process and analyze data by the terabyte. I spoke to one analyst who said Datameer is the closest comparable provider to ClearStory. Still, ClearStory is not drop-dead easy to set up and use. It's still relatively complex compared to pure social collaboration services in the market. Too many of today's data analytics services lack the intuitiveness so important in today's market. It reminds me of what LovelyHeroku Co-Founder Mario Danic said to me in a recent interview. Ten years ago building the technology was the most challenging feat. Today, the challenge is creating a compelling user experience almost more than anything else.
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