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Comparison of Data Visualization tools

Sat, June 25, 2011

We compare leading Data Visualization tools with each other (Spotfire, Qlikview, Tableau) and with Microsoft’s Business Intelligence platform. As you can see, there is a lot to consider. We have experience selecting the best data visualization tools for successful business applications. Click Here to Contact us for a Free Evaluation or call us at (617) 527-4722.

(Microsoft BI Stack includes PowerPivot, Excel 2010 and SQL Server with its Tabular (VertiPaq, DAX) and Multidimensional (SSAS, MDX) Data Models as well as SSRS and SSIS services), used as a back-end foundation for Data Visualization applications.

Because modern datasets are huge (or growing very fast!), they are usually best comprehended using Data Visualization (DV) with an ability to interact with data through visual drill-down capabilities and dashboards. There is NO a single best visualization product. Each has its place. For example, Spotfire has the best web client and analytical functionality. On the other hand, Qliktech may be the best visualization product for interactive drill-down capabilities. Tableau has the best ability to interact with OLAP cubes etc which proved to be important for best Data Analytics.

Based on specifics of your Data Visualization needs, Practical Computer Applications (PCA) will help you to choose best combination of technologies and tools and build a Custom Application for you.

Summary table below compares 3 leading DV Platforms to help you to evaluate those advanced and beautiful DV products, based on your needs. The Microsoft BI platform provides the best customization options and better price-performance ratio as a back-end for Data Analytics and for Self-Serviced Data Visulization.

BI and Data Visualization vendors will try to convince their potential customers that their product(s) is better because of particular properties, like price, ease-of-use, in-memory columnar database, excellent web clients, the ability to perform visual drill-down using UI only with no any filters or/and queries etc.

Our approach below is very different:

  • we took 30 different criterias (1st column in table below) from 3 areas: Business, Visualization and Technical and
  • evaluated each of 3 leading products (columns 2-4) in those areas and
  • also for comparison we added estimate for MS BI Stack (column 5).
  • In column 6 (right most column) we placed an IDC (ID of Comment or Comment ID) for particular comparison parameter or point and
  • all comment we placed below of our Comparison Table.

Preliminary Notes.

  • TIBCO is a vendor of the balanced Spotfire Platform: Spotfire Professional, Server, Enterprise and Web Players, S-Plus, DecisionSite, Metrics, Data Automation and Miner technologies, combining in-memory database with interactive Data Visualization, advanced analytics (S+), data mining and multi-filtering functionality. Spotfire 3.3 provides best web client and supports iPad
  • Qliktech is a vendor of Qlikview DV Platform: Qlikview Developer, Qlikview Server, Publisher and Access Point tools with a leading in-memory columnar database combined with advanced Visual Drill-Down, Interactive Dashboards and comprehensive set of client software, running even on SmartPhones.
  • Microsoft is a vendor of the most comprehensive set of BI and DV components, including SQL Server, Analytical, Reporting and Integration Services (SSAS, SSRS, SSIS), Sharepoint, Excel 2010 with PowerPivot add-in (Excel is the most popular BI tool, regardless) and VertiPaq engine.
  • At PCA our Data Visualization experts are customizing, in a cost-effective manner, all of the above with the ability to customize with development components from leading technological vendors like Dundas, DevExpress etc.
  • Recently released Microstrategy 9.2 (and its Visual Insight) is very promising product, which may soon be able to compete with DV Leaders mentioned above
  • I perceive that DV area has 4 super-leaders in this area: Qlikview 10, Spotfire 3.3, Tableau 6.1 and indirectly PowerPivot, but for completeness (because the real function is to be a “Data Visualizers”), I wish to add Visokio’s Omniscope. Unfortunately Visokio delayed for more then a year the release of version 2.6 of it.
  • I did not include Oracle, because it does not have own DV tool; however Oracle is an OEM partner with Tableau and resell it as a part of OBIEE toolset.
  • I do not include vendors who are behind: SAP, SAS, IBM, Oracle and I can add to this list a dozen more of mis-leaders.

The experts at PCA help to select the Data Visualization for your specific application. Additional services include the following:

  • Professional system analysis of client’s workflow and dataflow, business discovery and gathering of business requirements, functional specifications for required custom solution;
  • The custom software development for Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) processing from large Client Databases into in-memory superfast columnar DB and interactive OLAP Cubes;
  • Design of Custom Data Visualization and Dashboards deployed over the Internet through smart client and RIA technologies.

Additional factors to consider when comparing DV tools (table above overlaps with list below):

  •  load time [I tested all products above and PowerPivot is the fastest];
  •  incremental data updates;
  •  thin clients [Spotfire has the the best thin client, especially with their recent release of Spotfire 3.3 and Spotfire Silver];
  •  thick clients [Qlikview has the best THICK client, Tableau has free Desktop Reader, Visokio has Java-based Omniscope Desktop Viewer] ,
  •  access by 3rd party tools [PowerPivot’s integration with Excel 2010, SQL Server Analysis Services is a big attraction];
  •  interface with SSAS cubes [PowerPivot has it, Tableau has it, Omniscope will have it “very soon”, Qlikview and Spotfire do not have it],
  •  GUI [3-way tie, it is heavily depends on personal preferences];
  •  advanced analytics [Spotfire 3.3 is the leader here with its integration with S-PLUS and support for IronPython and other add-ons]
  •  the productivity of developers involved with tools mentioned above.

Andrei Pandre, Ph.D., VP of Data Visualization, Practical Computer Applications, Inc.

See data visualization demos using these tools:

Launch Demos

 Contact PCA for assistance with Data Visualization at (617) 527-4722

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