Alation modernizes UX, adds analytics to its data catalog platform


Alation’s new search-centric, flammable user experience

Credit: Alation

Data catalog juggernaut Alation announces a new release that brings major changes in look, feel and functionality to its platform. Its goal is to accommodate business users – rather than just the data scientists, data engineers, data managers and analysts it has served so far. By creating what it calls a “consumer-grade” user interface with a search engine-like experience, Alation believes it will increase its user population by a factor of 10. The new edition also enables custom branding, adds important analytical functionality and rearchitects the platform for the cloud.

Let your fingers search

Alations CEO and co-founder, Satyen sangani, ZDNet informed last week about the new 2020.3 release. Sangani sees it as Alation’s biggest this year, and maybe ever. While Alation already had very good search functionality for its catalog, it was referred to a sidebar rather than a single box in front and center of the home screen. Sangani sees the new experience as Yelp-like as opposed to the more yellow side-by-side interface that Alation had previously played. The new interface is shown in the figure at the top of this post.

Beyond the interface, however, the new Alation release adds enhanced analytics features that provide a BI layer around the popularity of data sources, how datasets are mixed / joined, their level of stewarding, and more. Sangani said the analyzes are not only informed by Alation’s own log data, but also by the observed behavioral patterns of users and machine learning technologies in general. While “Data Intelligence” is all for this functionality, we may see Alation’s improvements here as bringing some element of augmented analytics to data management, curing, and control.

New architecture for the computer culture era

The Alation 2020.3 release brings not only a new look and functionality, but also a new architecture. The company has containerized its platform following a dominant trend in the data world and brought the important “cloud native” buzz phrase to its platform. While Alation does not have any cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) offering right now, this architectural change would certainly make it easier to do so in the future.

As a kicker, Alation 2020.3 also brings improvements in pedigree features; new certified connectors, including those for Google Looks and Microsoft Power BI; and a new sandbox that simplifies upgrades and co-development with Alation itself.

With so much talk and momentum surrounding digital transformation and the establishment of “data culture” within organizations, data catalogs have gone from curatorial neatness to critical necessity. To make it go well, wider user recording is the key. Alation’s updating of the user experience is fully in line with this mandate and should strengthen the company’s competitive position in data discovery, management and leadership.