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Alteryx unifies cloud capabilities in a single platform

The longtime data and analytics vendor launched Analytics Cloud, bringing together its first four cloud-native capabilities in one environment for a more seamless user experience.

Less than a month after launching its initial cloud-first capabilities, Alteryx unveiled the Alteryx Analytics Cloud.

The longtime data and analytics vendor released Alteryx Designer Cloud -- its first cloud-native capability -- in preview in May 2021, but didn't make Designer Cloud generally available until Feb. 2, 2022.

Also on Feb. 2, Alteryx made cloud-native tools Alteryx Machine Learning and Alteryx Auto Insights generally available.

Together, the new features marked the release of Alteryx's first cloud-native capabilities.

Their launch came about three weeks after Alteryx, founded in 1997 and based in Irvine, Calif., agreed to acquire data preparation vendor Trifacta for $400 million. Once the acquisition was completed on Feb. 7, Alteryx added Trifacta's cloud-first tools to its growing array of cloud-first capabilities.

However, the cloud-native tools were not unified, and on March 1 Alteryx revealed that it has joined Designer Cloud, Machine Learning, Auto Insights and Trifacta together in a single platform to create the Alteryx Analytics Cloud.

By joining the tools together in a single environment, they will be easier to use with each other and customers will no longer have to toggle back and forth between tools, according to Suresh Vittal, Alteryx's chief product officer.

"It makes integration easy," Vittal said. "It makes it easier for them to try different capabilities. If you're building a workflow in Designer, you want to make the output of that workflow available in Auto Insights, for example, and being part of a common platform allows you to do that more simply. You don't have to move loads of metadata all over the place."

A sample Alteryx Designer Cloud screenshot
A sample Alteryx Designer Cloud screenshot displays a customer's workflow.

He added that with the tools joined together in a single platform, users won't have to re-create workflows in order to apply machine learning.

"It just cleans up how you access data, how you use it, how you share it and collaborate with your peers," Vittal said. "We think analytics, more and more, is a must-have for every knowledge worker, and if it is to be a must-have, you want to take friction out of the access and use of data. Making it part of one common cloud allows us to do that."

The unified platform

Alteryx Designer Cloud is the cloud-first version of Alteryx Designer, a tool that enables users to prepare, blend and output data without having to write code. The browser-based version is interoperable with the desktop version, and can be used with Macs as well as PCs.

Alteryx Machine Learning is a cloud-native automated modeling capability designed to enable customers to use predictive analytics in the data-driven decision-making process. The tool can be used by data scientists to reduce the time it takes to build and deploy machine learning models, and it has an Education Mode that visually guides business analysts so they too can build and deploy machine learning models.

Alteryx Auto Insights is the result of Alteryx's October 2021 acquisition of Hyper Anna and delivers AI-driven automated insights to business users. The cloud-native tool discovers trends, anomalies and insights within an organization's data and automatically delivers explanations based on those discoveries.

Finally, the Trifacta Engineering Cloud enables IT and data engineering teams to prepare data at scale and derive analytics insights from large data sets.

The cloud connectivity features seem well-thought-out. I believe customers will get started with this very easily and do real analytic work.
Donald FarmerFounder and principal, TreeHive Strategy

The four capabilities together mark a strong start for Alteryx as it expands its cloud presence, according to Donald Farmer, founder and principal of TreeHive Strategy.

"The cloud connectivity features seem well thought out," he said. "I believe customers will get started with this very easily and do real analytic work."

Farmer added that the cloud-native capabilities will appeal to existing Alteryx customers who have wanted to expand beyond an on-premises deployment. However, given that Alteryx has been slower to move to the cloud than many other data and analytics vendors, its cloud-native capabilities might not yet be enough to attract new users.

"This is certainly something customers have been waiting for," Farmer said. "I think it will help … existing Alteryx customers who have wanted to deploy more widely. But I am not sure the experience is so compelling for potential new customers. Nevertheless, all the important features seem to be there and I am sure this will drive wider adoption within existing customers."

Future plans

Alteryx plans to add more capabilities to its Analytics Cloud and eventually offer a cloud-first version of its entire platform while still offering its enterprise edition and supporting on-premises customers.

According to Vittal, it will take about two more years to fully re-platform for the cloud. Before then, however, the vendor will add new cloud-native capabilities to the Analytics Cloud as they are ready.

"We've set up the foundation," Vittal said.

Future updates will include additions to the desktop versions Alteryx Designer and Server, as well as cloud-native versions of Alteryx Promote, an MLOps tool, and Alteryx Connect, a data governance capability, according to Vittal.

Alteryx's next platform update is scheduled for release in concert with Inspire, the vendor's user conference scheduled for May.

"Inspire will be our next big release of the product," Vittal said. "We'll share a lot of the innovation engine and a lot of the work we've been doing."

The release of Alteryx Analytics Cloud with four features in a unified suite, meanwhile, represents significant progress for a vendor that was slow to embrace the cloud and still faces the complex task of integrating acquired technologies ahead of it, according to Farmer.

"This is good to see," he said. "I worry that the underlying complexity and engineering limitations are still there. They have a huge task ahead of them integrating, rationalizing and optimizing the user experience for cloud-first users. But I think we are seeing the first green shoots of spring here."

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