Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
WHAT MAKES PRISM UNIQUE?
We call Prism the world’s smallest big data analytics solution. Until today, companies had two options for data analytics: complex and pricy tools that can handle big and complex data, or lower cost tools that are simpler but do not scale well. SiSense has developed a revolutionary product that includes everything you need to get insights from big data at a fraction of the cost traditionally associated with business intelligence. We are able to do it due to our ElastiCube technology that eliminates the technical hurdles, and our Software as a Service business model. Yes, big things do come in small packages.
WHAT IS BIG DATA AND HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE IT?
According to Wikipedia Big Data is “a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools.” Practically speaking, many analytics tools choke when handling many tables, and a few tens of millions of records. If you have these volumes today, or expect your data to grow in the future, you need analytics software that can handle big data.
WE HAVE LOTS OF DATA- CAN YOU HANDLE IT?
Bring it on! Prism utilizes parallel processing, compression, and an in-memory columnar database for ultra fast performance. While most tools in our price range can't even load big data, Prism crunches it with ease. Sounds too good to be true? We know. So don't take our word for it: put us to the test. Now put the other guys to the same test. You'll see why Prism really is the future of Big Data Analytics.
I SEE LOTS OF BIG COMPANY LOGOS ON YOUR CUSTOMER PAGE- IS PRISM JUST FOR BIG COMPANIES?
Our mission is to level the data analytics playing field. We believe that any company should be able to gain insights from any size of data. That’s why Prism is designed to be small company-friendly: affordable pricing, no need for technical support staff, and no need for pricey hardware. We are proud to have many smaller and not-for-profit customers such as small startups, boutique marketing agencies, and local government agencies.
CAN I INSTALL SISENSE ON-PREMISES OR IS IT A CLOUD SOLUTION?
Both options are available. You can start with either option, and you can change you mind down the road and switch from one to the other.
DO YOU OFFER SUBSCRIPTION PRICING ALSO FOR ON-PREMISE INSTALLATIONS?
Absolutely! We believe you should not pay for software you do not use. With subscription pricing, you are never stuck with unused licenses. And we need to earn your business again every year.
HOW CAN SOMETHING SO POWERFUL COST SO LITTLE?
Short answer: we run a tight ship! Unlike traditional enterprise software companies that spend money on expensive field sales and expensive consultants, we have a more modern process where everything is done over the phone, web, and email. That's how we keep our (and your) costs low. Plus, other tools require a significant amount of integration services that drive your costs up. Because Prism is designed for non-technical people, these costs are negligible.
WHAT KIND OF HARDWARE DO I NEED?
Prism was designed to work on ordinary, off-the-shelf hardware. Even when you have many users analyzing large data sets, the hardware you already have will probably be sufficient to get you going.
WHAT KIND OF TRAINING DO YOU PROVIDE?
We have weekly online training sessions that you can join for free. Basic training is two hours and advanced training takes another two hours. That's usually all you need. We also provide online documentation, and are happy to provide additional training if needed.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF PRISM OVER JUST VISUALIZATION SOFTWARE?
Most data visualization tools allow you to, well, visually explore data sets. They work well if you have a few data sources (1-2 tables) and small data sets (a few millions of records). If your data grows quickly, or you expect to add more data sets, you will need to develop a “data warehouse” that will aggregate and reduce your data to sizes that the visualization software can cope with. This is a costly exercise, and you’ll be losing granularity. With Prism, you do not need to worry about any of this. Prism includes our own visualization software and The ElastiCube server, both designed to support hundreds of tables and billions of records.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF PRISM OVER OLDER IN-MEMORY ANALYTICS SOFTWARE?
With previous generation in-memory analytics software the amount of data that you can analyze is limited by the number of RAM Gigabytes of your computer. But what if your data outgrows your computer’s memory? You either get "out-of-memory" errors, or you end up needing to do "data acrobatics" such as splitting you data into multiple silos or building a data warehouse. SiSense's revolutionary ElastiCube In-Memory technology gives you all the benefits of in-memory without its limitations. It quickly expands the data to the hard-drive, so it is only limited by the amount on the drive.
BUT ISN'T SWAPPING DATA BETWEEN THE DISK AND RAM SLOW?
Not in our case. SiSense, in fact, is at least 10 times faster than previous generation in-memory analytics because of another major advantage. While older products uses a traditional relational database, Prism uses an ultra-fast columnar database, designed especially for big-data analytics. As a result, Prism is at least 10 times, and often 100 times faster than memory-only tool, and can process 100 times more data on the same hardware.
WHAT ARE THE KEY PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS OVER TRADITIONAL ANALYTICS?
With existing solutions you may need to wait hours until the data is loaded and wait hours for complex queries to execute. With Prism everything is faster--loading data, updating data, queries, and adding/changing tables and data sources. What normally takes hours with other tools, take minutes and often seconds with Prism.
HOW DOES PRISM COMPARE WITH HADOOP / HIVE?
Prism works with Hive. Hive is a data warehouse system designed for Big Data analytics. It works well, but it is a developer tool, not a business user tool: queries are written in an SQL-like programming language. Plus, while Hive scales well, query time can often take hours. Prism allows business users to visually analyze data that resides in Hadoop/Hive, and with much faster response time.
I AM GETTING "OUT-OF-MEMORY" ERRORS WITH MY CURRENT ANALYTICS SOFTWARE- DOES PRISM HAVE SIMILAR ISSUES?
No. Early in-memory analytics tools have an insatiable appetite for computer memory. This is because they copy your entire databases to memory. And every additional report, every additional user, every field, every table, every record, requires more memory. For example, for every additional user they need 10% additional memory. In other words, for 10 additional users you'll need to double your memory. Whether you have 16GB or 128GB of RAM, it's only a matter of time until you will run out of memory. This requires ongoing upgrading of memory, hardware, and often artificial splitting of dashboards and reports. Yikes! But Prism is light-years ahead. Its ElastiCube server is a super-efficient in-memory columnar database that can handle 100 times more data, is 10-100 times faster, by making clever use of disk storage as needed. So you'll never get "out of memory” message. Want to add more users? Just do it… You'll only need negligible amounts of additional memory. All while running on commodity hardware.
DO I NEED TO BUILD A DATA WAREHOUSE?
Absolutely not! Data warehouses are one of the most notorious projects associated with BI tools. That's exactly what we have vowed to eliminate. We use an in-memory columnar database that automatically connects to your data and builds everything for you. You do not need to worry about a complex data modeling or performance. You just say which data you want to add, and ElastiCube does the rest.
DO I NEED TO WRITE CODE TO EXRACT DATA FROM MY APPLICATIONS?
No. With older tools do you’ll need to write scripts in a special programming language to connect to your data sources, describe the relationship between tables, or to handle data conflicts. And that's why you'll need to either hire in-house developers or external experts. With Prism, you are in charge: it's all point-and-click, and after just two hours of online training you’ll be turning data to insights.