Clouds and Brains in Boulder

A meeting of the BI minds took place on October 2 in Boulder, Colorado.

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You may know Boulder, Colorado as the quirky home of Mork and Mindy in the 70’s TV show. Or you have heard its laid-back culture described as “25 square miles surrounded by reality.” This is the town where Steven King wrote “The Shining,” and it hosts outstanding universities.

In the world of Business Intelligence, Boulder plays a special role too, as the home of the Boulder BI Brain Trust - the #BBBT on Twitter - a quirky, laid-back group of researchers and consultants: as we call them, “influencers.”

Whose Brains? Why Boulder?

Perhaps as a twist of geography, there’s a remarkable number of such influencers around this Rocky Mountain town. Thanks partly to the research universities, Boulder is home to many tech companies, has a fine lifestyle, and a central location allowing easy travel to customers and events.

With this background, in 2006, Boulder resident Claudia Imhoff - a leading thinker and practitioner in the development of modern BI - brought together several of these local luminaries to be briefed by software companies. Companies such as Qlik could reach many influencers at once: for the influencers in turn, they enjoyed day-long deep dives into features and roadmaps that otherwise would be impossible to schedule.

From those local beginnings the briefings have now grown to very international affairs. Consultants join over the web from Europe, South Africa, Abu Dhabi and even from Australia at 1am!

Last week, myself and Todd Margolis of the Qlik Partner Engineering team visited the BI Brain Trust. You can see a short trailer of our briefing here. It was a fun day, but also very useful.

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Too much to talk about

For such a detailed briefing, with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the industry, what do you present?

At Qlik today, our products and platform are so richly featured and developing significantly that we cannot do justice to them all in one briefing. We could talk about smart visualizations and responsive UX all day - Patrik Lundblad does, quite often! We could cover data and data models, or governance which is so critical to self-service deployments. This time round, one topic dominated our discussion …

Clouds in the mountains

Flying in from rainy Seattle to the breathtaking autumn skies of Colorado, inevitably clouds were on my mind. In fact, the Northwest weather serves a useful metaphor. We talk so often about “The Cloud,” but in reality our customers, just like residents of Seattle, are faced with many, constantly changing clouds. They may have cloud apps and cloud storage on several platforms that do not talk together. Even when using Qlik technologies, they may deploy some instances on public cloud - such as Qlik Cloud - and some on private cloud, depending on their specific needs. Public instances may move to a private cloud for security, or private applications to public nodes to be shared with customers and partners.

So, if you can take time to register and watch the entire BBBT briefing you will hear quite a lot of detail of how we approach this problem. In particular, we talked about the Qlik Deployment Console, which is used to manage different cloud computing environments: setting up instances, moving apps between sites and managing objects and settings for cloud and on-premises deployments all from a single application. Around the topic of cloud, we also discussed our analytic platform and Qlik DataMarket: our data-as-a-service offering that makes external data, such as weather or stock market trends, available to use in an easy, manageable way.

The secret stuff

As a vendor, one of the most useful parts of the Boulder BI Brain Trust meeting is the opportunity to brief experienced consultants under a non-disclosure agreement. At this point, the cameras are switched off and we can privately share future plans, work in progress and even experimental developments. Todd Margolis gave some fun and powerful demos of just such ideas. What did he show? You would need to join the BBBT to find out next time!

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