Fast-growing, data-intensive companies require two things, Iyer points out. They need access to data warehouses, hosted on the cloud for ease of use and scalability, and they need database tools that allow them to turn this data into actionable insight. “The scale and sophistication of data has been completely transformed,” he adds.
Herein lies a problem. Most data warehousing and analytics solutions are expensive; businesses have to buy access to proprietary solutions that weren’t developed with their needs specifically in mind.
There is, however, an alternative. Open-source software developers have spent the past 30 years developing the code necessary to allow users to bypass proprietary software packages – effectively to source and develop their own bespoke solutions for specific problems completely free of charge. That now includes open-source database systems solutions – notably ClickHouse, a coding solution developed by the Russian internet search giant Yandex.
This is where ChistaDATA comes in. ClickHouse works brilliantly, says Iyer, but very few organisations have the skillset to use it to build the solutions they need for themselves. ChistaDATA has therefore done this work for them; it’s effectively built a ready-made enterprise version of ChistaDATA that businesses can use on-premise or in the cloud. The idea is to take ClickHouse’s open-source code and create user-friendly packages of tools for businesses – so that businesses don’t need to buy in the proprietary solutions available elsewhere.
Importantly, ChistaDATA is committed to the principles of the open-source industry; the company is owned by the ChistaDATA Foundation, which has made a public commitment that customers will always have access to the open source ClickHouse server. Customers don’t pay for the software itself, but they do have the option of paying for a range of services and support tools that ChistaDATA offers, which is how the company will make its living.
The concept has captured the market’s imagination very quickly, Iyer says. “We launched in August and revenues exceeded $1m within a matter of days,” he recalls. Customers now include the likes of Orange Telecommunications, Applied Materials, DHL, Netflix, National Geographic.
Investors have also taken note. The fundraising announced today is led by Sequoia Capital India, which describes the business as representing “the confluence of a massive technology trend with a special founder”. The investment values the business at $100m, but Iyer is confident that this valuation could reach $400m over the next three months, on the basis of industry-standard revenue metrics.
One important element of the value proposition is the extent to which automation is built into ChistaDATA’s model. It promises “the world’s first fully-autonomous ClickHouse server on cloud for data analytics ecosystem with automatic provisioning, scaling, tuning, security, fault tolerance and fail-over, backup, patching, and more.” The company is so confident in the system’s self sufficiency abilities that it currently employs just three members of staff. “We will continue to scale through extreme automation,” Iyer promises.
There is certainly plenty of market to go at. The global big data and analytics market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 10% over the next five years – that puts it on course to be worth $450bn by 2026. But for companies navigating a course through that market, the danger of a mis-step is high, unless they have access to sophisticated but user-friendly tools.