Increasing data catalogue adoption leads Alation to establish first partner program

The Alation program launches with a dozen partners, which includes BI vendors and a mix of regional and niche integrators.

Satyen Sangani, Alation’s CEO

Data catalogue vendor Alation has launched their first partner program, designed to work with a select number of Technology Partners and integrator and solution provider partners. The company also announced a second program, Alation Accelerate, although this one is a training program to support enterprise-wide data catalog adoption, and is aimed more at customers.

“I would argue that Alation was the first to launch a modern data catalogue, which is supported by the Forrester Wave analysis of Machine Learning Data Catalogues,” said Satyen Sangani, Alation’s CEO. “That was in 2015.”

Date warehouses, of course, have been around much longer.

“Relational databases were the initial advent of data storage and getting answers relied on data warehouse tools like those made by Cognos and Business Objects,” Sangani said. “That changed because three things happened. On the business intelligence [BI] side, you had the enablement of self-service to create visualizations yourself. You no longer need curated metadata, because everyone did that. The result though was that while before there was a semantic layer and a metadata layer, now everyone had their own semantic layer because there was no longer any unified definition. Then Hadoop came along, so there was no need to organize the data. Then ETL tools, which don’t even need to be for IT, created even more self service. So the result was effective chaos because of all of these self service tools, and because the singular data warehouse and BI layer have gone away. The  metadata was spread out everywhere. People couldn’t find anything, and didn’t know where to start. So what we did with modern data catalogues was instead having a single source of truth, have a single place to refer to all the information – a catalogue – that would leverage machine learning, and allow the cloud to upload, download, curate and distribute data so it’s more useful.”

Much of the data catalogue market is direct, reflecting the fact that its core market is the Global 2000, but Alation has always had channel partners, although they have principally been other vendors in the BI space

“We have had partners historically and managed them on an individual bases, and these have been primarily BI vendors like Teradata and Tableau,’ Sangani said. “Until now though, we haven’t had a partner program. We didn’t have the critical mass or understanding within the market to warrant a partner program before.”

What has changed things, Sangani said, is simply the growing breadth of deployments.

“We now have over 100 production deployments, most of which are Global 2000,” he said. “There is enough scale and market interest to get partners to invest proactively, which there wasn’t before.”

Alation actually announced two separate programs. The Alation Partner Program is aimed at the channel, and out of the gate has a dozen partners. It includes vendors like Tableau and Teradata, but also includes solution providers like Agilisium.

“We’ve gotten interest from all the global systems integrators, but in this early stage of market development we are seeing more interest from niche and regional partners who have a deep understanding of the technology, and who have clients with problems,” Sangani said. “There are regional or niche systems integrators with a focus on data governance, specifically collaborative analytics and agile stewardship.”

Sangani explained the objectives of the partner as focused on whole product construction.

“Customers don’t buy a product from us, they buy a solution and support,” he said. “We can’t just drop off software, especially as people are still learning how to deploy our catalogues. I expect us to find and partner with a select number of consultancies and Technology Partners who would like to harden what the whole product is for the customer, so they can drive data fluency successfully, and who understand the value proposition of getting more data to more people more quickly. There’s infinite demand for that on some level.”

While Alation prides itself on the innovation of their solution, Sangani acknowledged the partner program is pretty much the basics.

“There’s not a lot of innovation here,” he said. “The program has two tiers. The basic comes with registration and enablement materials, and the opportunity to earn referral fees. The more strategic tier is much more custom-designed. We will invest in partners who want to invest in us. The program is not about making a quick buck. It’s designed for the long-term success of our customer.”

The second program Alation announced is Alation Accelerate, a training program developed in partnership with Eckerson Group and focused on enterprise-wide data catalogue adoption. Alation Accelerate includes courses by Eckerson Group’s Wayne Eckerson, founder and principal consultant, and Dave Wells, practice director, data management. Unlike the first program, this one is focused primarily at customers.

“Our catalogue’s main proposition is to broaden data literacy in a company, and that’s more of an adoption and engagement-oriented problem,” Sangani said. “Often we find customers want to build competency in-house to drive catalogue adoption. This is what this program is for.”