Roambi Takes Data Visualization To the Cloud; Broadens User, Mobile Access

Roambi is offering a cloud-optimized version of its successful on-premise data visualization technology to better meet users’ needs for quick and simple mobile access to powerful data-derived visualizations and insights. IDN talks with Roambi co-founder Quinton Alsbury. 

Tags: analytics, AWS, cloud, visualization, smartphone, Roambi, tablet, expert voice,

Quinton Aslbury
Quinton Alsbury
president of innovation

"Roambi wants to be that toolset that lets you visualize your data, wrap it in context and present it to users off any mobile device."

Roambi is offering a cloud-optimized version of its successful on-premise data visualization technology to better meet users’ needs for quick and simple mobile access to powerful data-derived visualizations and insights

The new offering, dubbed Roambi Business, removes the need for on-premise software, programming or infrastructure. Companies can use the cloud to create and deliver eye-catching data visualizations to mobile users, Roambi co-founder Quinton Alsbury told IDN. “With Roambi in the cloud, we’ve removed a lot of the technical or cost barriers to adoption,” Alsbury said.

“Moving to the cloud was always in the plan, we just didn’t think it would happen so quickly,” he noted.  That said, Roambi’s move to the cloud wasn’t merely a simple port to a public cloud service, it was a major engineering project. “We re-architected the entire Roambi product suite and that took us about 18 months,” Alsbury said. “Roambi is now a true, modern, multi-tenant platform using all the latest modern languages.” 

But Alsbury and Roambi have taken a different tact to get into the cloud, He doesn’t want the company to control data or to be a simple cloud-based integration service. Rather Alsbury wants Roambi to be “the creative suite for data.”

He put it this way:  “Everyone wants to have up-to-date data and analytics at their fingertips. That content -- and data is essentially content -- needs a toolset to create the experience to expose that and use it.  We want to be that toolset that lets you visualize your data, wrap it in context, present it off any mobile device.”  

To deliver this creative toolset for data, the cloud-based Roambi Business includes a number of crucial features. Among them”

  • Easy Adoption and Scalability. It is a subscriber based solution which scales to many thousands of devices, and is hosted on Amazon Web Services.
  • Redesigned Publisher: A simple, productivity style app that lets users easily create high-end visualizations from any device, including tablets.
  • Robust Administration: A full suite of powerful administrative features that gives admins all the tools they need to manage their users, content, devices, and more.
  • Application Security: Roambi’s suite of innovative features to centrally secure on-device content, like remote wipe, file expiration, application passcodes, and file recall.
  • Publishing API that serves as a conduit for data and enables customers to automate data imports, create Roambi reports, and refresh data.
  • Single Sign On with SAML 2.0 for optimal security and seamless access to content. Users can also integrate with their existing on-premise SSO solutions, as needed.
  • Offline Access to all the data that matters for a true anytime, anywhere experience
  • Low Cost subscription service, available starting at $39 per month.

Inside Roambi’s Cloud Approach  to
Mobile-Ready Analytics, Data Visualization

Taking all this extra time and effort to re-architect for the cloud will pay dividends – for IT developers, end users and the company, Alsbury told IDN. He shared the goals and objectives for his company’s move to the cloud.

“The primary one was accessibility, which also meant we wanted to make it faster to adopt and use. The problem was we had anchored [Roambi] to an enterprise-oriented on-premise engine. So to make Roambi a proper mobile app, we needed to make it possible for people to just use it without on-premise requirements,” he added.

Alsbury also noted a range of changing dynamics for how companies use data visualizations further prompted Roambi’s big investment in cloud, He listed three major converging trends:

  1. Enterprises are rapidly adopting mobile for customers and BYOD
  2. There is an ever-expanding variety of devices and perhaps most crucial
  3. There is an explosion in the number of datasources business users want to access

When Alsbury added all this up, he came to a simple conclusion. “Today, direct integration doesn’t work anymore when you connect mobile devices to different data,” Alsbury said. “So, in the cloud, Roambi’s approach uses an API, so developers can [support] data visualization transmit tables of data. This is not complicated, and is a widely accepted solution.”  

Alsbury also noted the difference between the Roambi approach and other more hands-on approaches to data integration or stage back and forth to the cloud. “We’re not trying to own people’s data. We want only to be the format and visualization tool for it. It can be any type of data. BI, big data, excel, whatever,” he said. “What it is a mobile experience to data, basically makes it more useable and accessible to people that aren’t experts or trained to use BI reports.   So, it’s pretty exciting.”  

Alsbury shared his expectations for a typical deployment scenario for Roambi’s data visualization via the cloud.

A company wants to share data virtualizations using several different data sources, and update the data for those three or four times a day. Using the cloud-based Roambi Business, the user can create an account in 10 seconds or so. Once created, that account includes access to the full Roambi data visualization platform, including the APIs for publishing data, sample visualizations, as well as access security and user authentication. Companies can also tie their SAML services in with the Roambi Business cloud, he added. 

“Through the Roambi API, users are essentially pushing their source files up to the Roambi cloud. Further the APIs target which data sources will drive which visualizations,” Alsbury said. “You can schedule multiple dumps out of your database. Using the Roambi Publishing app, companies build out there visualizations, and we provide samples they can use.”

After that set-up, the visualization fun begins, ”After the initial set up, these visualizations and updates of the data are automatically made available to the users. So, the way to think of it is, once this bridge between the Roambi cloud and your on-premise data is established, users can go on with their day.” By that Alsbury means, users automatically get access to their visualizations, the updates and can even do special drill-downs using their smartphones or tablets.  

The Roambi Business use of the cloud still gives the mobile end user tons of power to work with visualizations, Alsbury added.

“The data lives on the device, and that is a key architectural difference,” he said. That means any drilldown into the data is a function of the visualizations themselves, and uses the power of the users’ mobile devices, he added.

“Today, mobile devices have huge processing power, so you don’t treat them as just dumb terminals. Also, with so much network vulnerability, you want users to be able to get to their data,” he said. “If this were a simple browser-based solution, it would severely constrain the usability and availability of the data.” 

Roambi Business’ use of the cloud also removes complexity and adds scale to help deliver more end-user benefits, including simplicity and scale, Alsbury added. “We have scale that far outreaches the typical active production users of BI. We have orgs, that have 8,000-10,000 sales reps using Roambi, and those users were never able to be BI users.”

One Roambi user said having a cloud option was delivering a lot of advantages to IT and business users. “User and content management is now much easier and more intuitive, and the introduction of the [Roambi] API has helped further streamline our automated processes that keep our Roambi views up to date,” said Riley Newman, head of analytics at Airbnb, a provider of vacation rentals in 192 countries.  

One analyst also liked the approach. “A growing number of organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry are recognizing the advantages of leveraging cloud-based analytic solutions. Roambi Business provides a secure cloud platform to address these needs,” said Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, Inc.

Roambi Business is available as a 30-day free trial here