Getty Images/iStockphoto

Alteryx launches SaaS version of Designer in Analytics Cloud

The fully cloud-native version of Designer furthers the vendor's move toward the cloud, which began in early 2022 with the launch of its first cloud-based suite of tools.

Alteryx on Wednesday continued its move to the cloud with the early-access launch of a SaaS version of Designer for the Alteryx Analytics Cloud.

The early access is available to hundreds of customers representing thousands of users, with general availability expected in early 2023, according to the vendor. In addition, though Alteryx does not make public the pricing details for Designer Cloud, existing users will not have to pay extra for the new version of Designer.

Alteryx, founded in 1997 and based in Irvine, Calif., is a data management and analytics vendor whose platform automates much of the data preparation process.

After unveiling a preview of its first cloud-based capabilities in May 2021, the vendor in February launched those capabilities, including Designer Cloud, which is the cloud-based version of Alteryx's tool for preparing, blending and outputting data without having to write code.

A month later, the vendor packaged the four cloud-based capabilities together along with Trifacta, which it had recently acquired, to form the Alteryx Analytics Cloud.

New capabilities

Now, Alteryx is joining Designer with Trifacta's cloud-native data wrangling capabilities to expand its reach and make it truly cloud native.

The new SaaS version of Designer can be accessed through any web browser so that anyone within an organization can use the tool. In addition, it can be pushed down into cloud data warehouses to work with data in-database rather than forcing users to go through the time-consuming extract, transform and load process.

It finally allows Alteryx users to be liberated from the need to have desktop installs and will hopefully make it easier for users to more easily take advantage of the most advanced features of Alteryx because there will be no more needing to update to the latest version.
Rowan CurranAnalyst, Forrester Research

In particular, access to Designer by anyone through a web browser is significant, according to Rowan Curran, analyst at Forrester Research.

"It finally allows Alteryx users to be liberated from the need to have desktop installs and will hopefully make it easier for users to more easily take advantage of the most advanced features of Alteryx because there will be no more needing to update to the latest version," he said.

Meanwhile, the early-access launch of the new Designer Cloud represents progress as Alteryx attempts to unify its platform, said Jay Henderson, Alteryx's senior vice president of product management.

Alteryx acquired Trifacta to enhance its own cloud-native capabilities. But while Trifacta's cloud-native capabilities were bundled into the Alteryx Analytics Cloud, the capabilities weren't fully blended with preexisting Alteryx tools.

Now, Alteryx is combining the tools it inherited with the acquisition of Trifacta with those it had before the acquisition.

"We're putting [Designer] on top of the Trifacta infrastructure," Henderson said. "It's some steady progress to unify the portfolio a bit, get it running on the same infrastructure and really make up one suite of products."

The development of new Designer capabilities is Alteryx's response to market trends, he added.

Data management and analytics have historically been the domain of IT departments and centralized data teams. Now, however, many organizations want more than just a select few data experts working with analytics. They want end users to be able to make data-driven decisions in real time, and that requires self-service tools that are easy to use.

Alteryx's Analytics Cloud is designed for ease of use with its no-code and low-code capabilities.

Meanwhile, as more organizations migrate their analytics operations to the cloud, they want cloud-native capabilities.

"Companies are continuing to drive analytics into their knowledge workers -- there's a steady march to put more information in the hands of everyday workers and get it out of the ivory tower of IT," Henderson said. "And if you look at the way companies are investing, they're moving data to the cloud and using cloud data warehouses, and they want to get value out of those investments."

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

Cloud momentum

Beyond combining Alteryx's existing capabilities with the capabilities it added through Trifacta, the new Designer Cloud represents progress for Alteryx as it remakes itself for the cloud.

Alteryx was slow to develop cloud-native data and analytics capabilities, not introducing its first cloud-native tools until this year.

By comparison, peers including SAS, Dataiku, Databricks and Knime all made their push to the cloud before Alteryx. In addition, traditional BI vendors such as ThoughtSpot, Qlik and MicroStrategy overhauled their platforms to make them cloud-first before Alteryx ever introduced a single cloud-native capability.

"We were certainly later to drive toward the cloud than some other software companies," Henderson said. "But I think we're happy with the progress we're making."

After its slow start, Alteryx made transitioning to the cloud a priority, so much so that it overhauled its executive suite to bring in leaders with cloud experience. Among them, CEO Mark Anderson was hired in 2020 after serving as president of Palo Alto Networks and working at Cisco earlier in his career, and chief product officer Suresh Vittal was added in 2021 after four years with Adobe Experience Cloud.

Since then, Alteryx has emphasized its transition to the cloud.

"It's good for us to have some steady momentum around the cloud ... and for us to bring Designer Cloud to [the Trifacta] infrastructure is a pretty big milestone for us," Anderson said.

That momentum around the cloud has extended beyond technological modernization to Alteryx's balance sheet.

The 25-year-old vendor said it has added more than 1,000 new customers over the past 18 months, which is a nearly 15% increase. Alteryx's annual recurring revenue is up nearly 50% from just over $500 million to $757.7 million.

And the launch of Designer Cloud has the potential to fuel further growth, according to Forrester's Curran.

"It continues Alteryx's progress toward becoming a more cloud-first company, which is crucial for them to continue their rate of growth," he said. "Enabling their customers to use Alteryx Designer in the cloud is a great step to continuing to appeal to new and existing customers who need their enterprise tooling environments deployed on the cloud."

The road ahead

With the fully cloud-native version of Designer Cloud slated for general availability early next year, Alteryx's roadmap includes a focus on governance, according to Henderson.

The vendor's tools are designed to enable self-service use, but that requires limits on which employees can have access to what data. While a CEO or other executive-level employees might have access to virtually all of their organization's data, there is data that a lower-level employee should not be allowed to see.

Therefore, governance is needed to simultaneously protect organizations while empowering employees to work safely and confidently with the data they're permitted to use.

In addition, adding collaboration capabilities will be a priority, Henderson noted.

Meanwhile, Alteryx will continue to evolve toward the cloud.

"Our goal has always been to meet customers wherever they are on their cloud journey," Henderson said. "We're still investing in our on-premises products, but in parallel, we've been able to invest in the cloud."

Dig Deeper on Business intelligence technology

Data Management
Content Management