Having a background in software and database development and design, I have a special nostalgia and appreciation for Toad’s set of database solutions, as in my past working life I was a regular user of these and other tools for database development. Of course, Toad’s applications have grown and expanded over the years and now cover the areas within data management that are key to many organizations’ daily operations.
Toad’s expansion in the last decade was noticed by giant PC and server provider Dell, which, in order to expand its software offering and product stack, acquired Toad in September 2012.
Now, with a solid background in and view of the technical aspects of IT, Dell is using Toad software products and offerings in a very unique way, to explore the “business side of IT” and offer solutions that can help users and organizations to close or reduce the gap between IT and business. Dell is designing specific strategies in keeping with these goals and using Toad and other acquired software products to expand its data management software portfolio.
Toad has evolved to become a provider of solutions that stand out for their unique approaches to BI, analytics, and big data. Following is a brief look at Toad and how it fits into Dell’s data management and BI sphere, and a deeper look at Dell Toad’s platform infrastructure.
Dell Toad Immersion in BI, Analytics, and Big Data
In the words of Darin Bartik, executive director of information management products at Dell Software:
As an integral part of Dell’s “all data” strategy, the Toad portfolio is evolving beyond its roots as a set of tools for the individual database professional into a portfolio for teams and organizations to manage all data as an asset for their business.
Indeed, Toad’s offerings fit well within Dell’s approach to analytics, big data, and data management.
Based on experience in the data management field, Dell’s Toad team has defined clear challenges/opportunities that come with the advent of greater and more complex volumes of data.
Some of these challenges include the need to:
- deal with data silos to consolidate database sprawl and optimize data access and preparation;
- deal with increased data complexity to enable working with multiple database types both on-premise and in the cloud, with both unstructured and structured data, and also with other technologies such as virtualization;
- overcome resource constraints, skill gaps, and limited resources; and
- provide business and IT agility to ensure continuous integration and faster time-to-insight cycles.
Like other software providers, Dell is aware of the need many organizations have for overcoming these and other challenges in the search for efficient data handling and analysis to increase business competitiveness and performance. However, instead of acquiring or developing applications and tools that would rival those of existing powerful players in the market such as Tableau, Qlik and others, Dell has taken a slightly different approach.
Developed under the umbrella of its product stack, Dell’s approach has a more comprehensive and foundational vision, consisting of developing a mix of software solutions and partnerships to provide the foundation for an integrated platform for data management.
Two software offerings are at the core of Dell’s BI and analytics platform infrastructure: Toad Intelligence Central and Toad Data Point:
- Toad Intelligence Central provides a centralized repository for sharing files created in Toad with other data sources to enable efficient collaboration. Being a server-side solution, Toad aims to provide an optimized and governed way to enable the collaboration and sharing of view queries, files, objects, datasets, and content created in other solutions.
- Toad Data Point provides a cross-platform query and data-integration tool aiming to enable wide data connectivity from a large number of data sources, desktop data integration, and visual query building tools for enabling users to perform easier data discovery tasks. The application includes functionality for workflow automation to ease some of the burden of performing automatically repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as preformatting and essential data profiling.
With these two applications, along with Toad’s data productivity and database administration (DBA) solutions, the Dell Toad team wants to simplify as much as possible the analytics process cycle (data access, analysis, and results provisioning) by providing services that span the complete data lifecycle (figure 1).
Figure 1. Toad Vision: To be used across the data lifecycle (All images courtesy of Dell)
How does Dell Toad accomplish this? By working on those gaps that exist in the data lifecycle process, and providing the services that are needed for managing, sharing, integrating, and procuring content and data in a data management ecosystem and providing a centralized and multi-format compliance repository.
Dell Toad: A Vision Coming From the “Inside”
Compared with other competitors’ more business-focused approaches, Dell has the key technical experience that is enabling Dell Toad to be able to serve business needs from a realistic technical point of view.
In this sense, Dell’s approach to big data is based on an “inside-out“ model of sorts. Dell starts by providing a core and strong data management strategy via Toad’s offerings and works towards the outside by having a stable structure for the rest of the services, such as infrastructure, analytics, and data integration (figure 2). Hence, the structure is built around the rest of the key services, like data access, security, and connection with a variety of data sources and third-party offerings.
Figure 2. Dell’s approach to big data
Dell Toad’s product strategy includes significant expansion in support for data sources, from support for traditional relational database management system (RDBMS) systems with the new Toad data manager IBM DB2 to new sources such as Toad for SAP HANA and Toad for Hadoop and MongoDB.
Dell has also worked to nurture valuable relations and partnerships with high-end players in the business intelligence and analytics ecosystem such as Qlik, Datawatch, and Tableau.
Additionally, two other important acquisitions bring an additional sense of completeness to Dell’s data management and business intelligence platform, which, in my view, are well suited to expand the company’s power and greatly increase its ability to provide comprehensive data services to both the technical and business sides of an organization.
One is Dell Boomi, Dell’s suite for data and application integration. This acquisition expands Dell’s potential to other data management scenarios such as the Internet of Things and ensures proper integration of Dell’s solutions with a large number of third-party applications such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, and others.
The other is Statistica, the well-known advanced analytics suite recently acquired by Dell, which provides the company with a great opportunity to expand Dell’s reach into the data science community.
These data management acquisitions, along with a strong partnership approach and strategy, make Dell conform what seems to be a more than viable approach to full-fledged data management scenarios, from database development and maintenance to the deployment of analytics and big data management frameworks.
Toad Leaping Forward
Dell seems to be doing a good job of translating work on the technical side to offerings that can have a more direct impact on the business side and through this provide business-oriented data service to a business community that is increasingly eager to use its data for insights and opportunities.
From a couple of briefings and talks with the Dell Toad team I had the opportunity to hear directly from them about present and future product plans and, without sharing the details, it seems they have a clear path on how to solidify and expand their existing portfolio with new and improved offerings. I’m already looking forward for my next conversation with them in the coming year to see what they have come up with.
In the meantime, please let me know what’s on your mind regarding data management, analytics, and BI. Drop me a line below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
(Original post published in TEC's Blog)