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Confluent on Tuesday launched a new technology partner program aimed at enabling the vendor's partners to better deliver streaming data to their own customers through native integrations with the Confluent Cloud platform.
Connect With Confluent is generally available and open to all of the vendor's technology partners, which include AWS and Google Cloud, among others.
Confluent offers a cloud-based data streaming platform with Confluent Cloud, a managed service for its cloud-based customers, and Confluent Platform for its on-premises users.
Both are built using Apache Kafka, an open source tool for streaming data, and enable Confluent customers to import data from a variety of sources as events occur to foster real-time decisions and actions.
The vendor in May updated Confluent Cloud to improve its Stream Governance suite and added new data sharing capabilities. A bit less than a year before that, the vendor's July 2022 update targeted multi-cloud event data streaming.
Confluent competitors include Cloudera and Tibco as well as tech giants AWS, Google and Microsoft, which all offer data streaming platforms.
Connect With Confluent is aimed at creating an ecosystem to immediately deliver streaming data to the end user, according to Paul Mac Farland, the vendor's VP of partner and innovation ecosystem.
Confluent delivers streaming data directly to Kafka engineers. But not all Confluent platform users are also Kafka engineers. Many data scientists and data analysts use BI platforms and other tools to access and view their data.
For those non-Kafka users, data is dated by the time it gets to the point where it can be used to build and analyze models that drive their organizations' decisions. Streaming data, despite its intended use in real time, is frequently combined with other data in files or put in batch files to be uploaded into a database or other data storage repository before being accessed and used.
By the time it's finally accessed, it's no longer real-time data.
Confluent is attempting to change that paradigm with Connect With Confluent.
By developing native integrations with technology partners, the vendor aims to deliver streaming data from its source, through Confluent Cloud and into a platform such as Qlik -- a BI and data integration vendor already part of Connect With Confluent -- to be immediately accessed and used to fuel models and decisions in real time.
Meanwhile, in addition to efficiency, one of the main benefits of the new partner program will be the exposure Confluent will get through its technology partners, according to Stephen Catanzano, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.
Streaming data is still relatively new, and it is projected to grow significantly in coming years, according to a report from Research and Markets. Given that enterprise aren't predominantly using streaming data yet, Confluent and other independent streaming data specialists are not yet widely known. Partners, however, expose technologies to their own users, so partner programs are a way to be seen more widely.
"In the recent [conversations I had with] their partners, most were very new to Confluent, leading me to believe that their partner program is new and now being pushed harder," Catanzano said. "All of the partners I spoke with are system integrators who are consulting with customers on technology choices and helping with integration."
Stephen CatanzanoAnalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group
Beyond enabling smoother delivery of streaming data to customers and exposing Confluent to a broader user base, Connect With Confluent also provides technology partners with access to Confluent's technical, sales and marketing support to foster joint go-to-market efforts and provide customer support.
Meanwhile, the impetus for the partner program came from customers who wanted smoother connectivity between Confluent and their other applications, according to Mac Farland.
He noted that for users to take full advantage of streaming data, they need to move data to and from SaaS applications, databases and mainframes as quickly as possible. To do so, they need an environment that connects their various systems.
"Our customers want to be able to realize this vision as fast as possible, and having the data streaming ecosystem help build this with us is the fastest path," Mac Farland said. "Customers were immediately able to query the data that Confluent had helped combine from their various data silos."
One Confluent partner reported that when its customers began using Confluent in tandem with its own platform, use of its platform by that customer rose significantly, he continued.
As streaming data continues to grow, better governance of streaming data is needed, according to Catanzano.
As a result, now that Confluent has launched Connect With Confluent, Catanzano said he'd like the vendor to add more data governance capabilities.
He noted that ESG recently conducted a survey asking participants their primary goal for their data platform. Half responded that enabling faster business decisions is their top objective.
Streaming data does just that.
But streaming data needs to be trusted to truly drive decisions. Without trusted data, organizations can't have confidence in decisions based on data. Confluent would be wise to add governance capabilities that improve trust in streaming data.
"Streaming data is absolutely on the rise as customers want to get to real-time, actionable data insights for decision-making, faster innovations and to build a competitive edge," Catanzano said. "The new barrier is compliance and corporate governance. The data needs to be trusted to be used. I'd like to see them enable more trust and governance capabilities."
Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.