The father of the data warehouse discusses his latest venture | #MITCDOIQ
Few in the world of enterprise computing have Wikipedia pages written about them for reasons other than promotional, making Bill Inmon a notable exception. Known as the “father of the data warehouse,” he literally wrote the book on large-scale information management architectures, along with over 50 other titles covering related topics. Inmon also founded two successful startups, one of which he sold and the other he took public.
The industry visionary is now working on a third venture that holds even more promise than his previous endeavors. Forest Rim Technology Inc. is an up-and-coming provider of so-called textual ETL (extract, transform, load) software that promises to make the 80 percent of corporate data that in unstructured form easily available for analysis. Inmon dropped by SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE at MIT’s recently concluded CDOIQ Symposium to provide a rare look behind the scenes of the ambitious effort.
The Colorado-based Forest Rim sets itself apart with a unique approach that attempts to discern the meaning of raw text by its context rather than just the contents, Inmon told hosts Dave Vellante and Paul Gillin, a methodology that it claims allows it to tackle even the most unwieldy of datasets. That includes everything from contact center transcripts to the clinical narratives used by doctors to describe a specific medical situation to their colleagues, linguistically complex workloads that necessitate an equally elaborate analytic process to ingest.
“We take language for granted because we speak it and to us language is very natural and normal, but when you start to put language into a computer, it’s anything but natural and normal,” Inmon explained. “So when it comes to the question of how you do contextual analysis, you have a hundred different ways that you do it because in language, there’s a hundred different ways context can occur and appear to us.”
It took Inmon and his team of researchers a full 12 years to develop a set of algorithms can handle that tremendous amount of variety, he detailed, and they’re still no where near the 100 mark. But he said that the offering has nonetheless proven itself in the field to be effective in addressing the formidable challenge of mapping unstructured text into the rows and columns of the relational databases enterprises rely on today.
From there, the information can be easily fed into a downstream analytical process, be it a traditional business intelligence (BI) solution like SAP BusinessObjects or a virtualization product like Tableau or QlikView. Inmon said that simplicity has earned Forest Rim several paying customers across multiple industries, including several household brands he wouldn’t mention by name.
See the entire interview below:
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