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Summary:

With a founding team out of Nutanix, Google and Yahoo, ThoughtSpot is pushing a new in-memory analytics and visualization engine delivered via appliance. Appliances can be risky, but when they work, they work.

Ajeet Singh is sticking with what worked for him at Nutanix — the fast-growing enterprise compute-plus-storage company he co-founded in 2009 — with a new business intelligence startup called ThoughtSpot. It’s in-memory analytics software designed for ease of use, but delivered on as an appliance, theoretically to save customers the need to buy their own servers or install anything on them.

ThoughtSpot wants to be the “last mile” for business data, Singh explained in a recent interview, and the company believes the appliance model, the popularity of which seems to ebb and flow every few years, is the way to go. The ThoughtSpot Data Search Appliance is comprised of just off-the-shelf gear — there are no specialty components you might find in an Oracle or Teradata appliance, for example, and ThoughtSpot doesn’t have a hardware engineer on staff — but the company did consider the popularity of those larger players when deciding on the form factor. Mid-size enterprises, Singh said, probably just want to plug and play.

Ajeet Singh

Ajeet Singh

Once the appliance is configured, the software itself provides a natural-language-like interface for searching through numerical data. Its “data search engine” predicts what users are looking for as they type keywords into a search bar, then generates SQL queries when someone hits enter. The company’s team actually has quite a bit of experience in search, with co-founders Amit Prakash and Shashank Gupta having led teams at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Interface differences aside, Tableau seems like a natural competitor for ThoughtSpot right off the bat (and it probably is), but Singh made the distinction that Tableau is either desktop software or a heavy IT project when installed on a server. He thinks ThoughtSpot’s delivery model splits the difference between those two extremes. ThoughtSpot also plans to release a cloud version of its product, but opted for the appliance first because most companies still store their data locally.

ThoughtSpot is available now for early-access users. Prices start at around $50,000 and the technology is designed to handle about 100 terabytes of data, Singh said, although the company is focusing early efforts on beta customers with just a few terabytes. It plans to make the product generally available in the summer.

ThoughtSpot closed a $10.7 million round of venture capital financing in late 2012, from Lightspeed Venture Partners and a handful of individual investors.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user ramcreations.