Dive into Your Data Lake

As I work with clients to leverage xOverTime’s capabilities, I get to see solutions evolve from basic Excel formulas in a workbook to enterprise-level applications. Our projects usually start with a customer using Excel as its flexibility for analysis and pervasiveness in the industry cannot be beat. With the xOverTime add-in, we empower business users to build and prototype their own user-defined database within the familiar environment of Excel. They now ‘own’ that data and can share individual or custom groupings of data elements with their team. Their individual solutions start to crystallize and they begin fielding data requests from other parts of the company as they are increasingly relied upon as the golden source for certain information. Some even get requests to expand to Web, mobile and BI platforms. At this point the technology lines start to blur as their data, previously trapped in Excel, now participates in the enterprise ecosystem.

Sometimes our curious users start to ask for more powerful and programmatic ways to support their business processes. After Excel, what’s next? At the time of writing this article we have native connectors to JavaScript, Python and Tableau with our APIs filling in the rest. So, now I look at our architecture diagrams and, rather than just a cloud database, I see a full-fledged system with Excel tools, Python scripts, Web apps, BI tools and, perhaps most importantly, a security model that integrates with each and every part. Taking this one step further, we will soon have the capability to store and link various file types to an individual data element, furthering the use cases we can support.

In addition to supporting customers with a range of solutions for them to manage their data, we are also preparing to release features to better support their collaboration around the data. These new capabilities will pave the way for users to collaborate while drawing context to the data including catalogs, variables, and time series data. The technology lines once again blur as we support more use cases and tie in more functionality.

Looking at this larger picture, I am again and again reminded of the Data Lake. The dream of getting away from disparate systems and isolated applications in favor of one all-inclusive interconnected network of data from every line of business. A dream where APIs are rapidly published, permissioned and consumed by developers giving rise to productivity gains, cost savings and data governance at an enterprise level. This dream is big and currently very costly, but I don’t know if it has to be that way… With xOverTime we extract data from Excel, replace SQL stored procedures with API calls, and can consolidate disparate systems and datasets into one “golden source” platform. As I listen and learn, I see the enterprise slowly moving in this direction, installing Hadoop clusters or even building their own Data Lake frameworks.

With all the hype and buzz in the tech industry it is too easy to get lost in the data with expensive and complicated tech stacks. Instead, come talk to us at xOverTime and experience simplicity through innovation.

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