KNIME has made a strong case for openness: deliver a complete platform that’s free and open source; then make money by adding functionality to make that platform easier and more efficient to use. But how does that work in reality? The just-released KNIME version 2.10, complemented with the next-generation commercial extensions to the KNIME Analytics Platform, gives us a taste of what they’re cooking up for us.
So far we’ve had the KNIME Server - a commercial extension that wrapped around the open source platform to provide features for collaboration, security and integration into other applications. These are real “enterprise” features for organizations that want to imbed KNIME into their existing infrastructure – all delivered at a price on a server that was less than what “the traditional players” wanted for a single workstation copy of their tool. So the argument for extra functionality in this context was easy to make: Yes, you could build your own security system or your own way of sharing and exchanging data, workflows and metanodes, but, if you get great value-added functionality at a good price, it makes sense to spend your precious time elsewhere.
And one thing I’ve always liked about the KNIME model: a portion of every commercial license fee always goes to the open source team, allowing THEM to eat (and continue to produce great open source extensions). So: something of value not only for your organization, but for the community as well!
KNIME Personal Productivity Tool
But with the latest KNIME release, we now have commercial extensions that start to show the real beauty of the KNIME business model.!
KNIME personal productivity is designed to help you make your daily life easier by eliminating a lot of the admin tasks around building, duplicating and maintaining your personal KNIME workflows. A great feature from the KNIME server – the Metanode Repository – has been baked into a KNIME Analytics Platform extension for your personal use. With it, you can create metanode templates that can be stored and reused via instantiation, either within the same workflow or across workflows; then it is enough to maintain the centrally stored template metanode, to update all its instances automatically. There’s even a mechanism for checking for updates that gives you the flexibility of updating a given workflow or not. Delicious!
For those of us who do a lot of KNIMEing, it’s a brilliant productivity tool. And while it’s not absolutely necessary, at €300 it’s hard to overlook the value, especially considering that some of this goes to the open source team. I could build this myself, but… at that price, why bother?
KNIME Big Data Extension
A second new extension – KNIME Big Data – takes this a step further. Everyone knows that KNIME Analytics Platform can access any data, as long as there’s a JDBC driver that can be plugged in or the File Reader can get to it. And that won’t change. But KNIME looked at the DB nodes and discovered the nodes could be made even sweeter – which had been done in the KNIME Analytics Platform (yes, open source and free).
At the same time, there was a need for a tighter and, above all, certified extension into the world of Big Data. So specific HIVE (and soon Impala) Access, Transformation, and Load nodes have been created in a commercial extension, complete with Cloudera certification (with all that this implies for building, maintaining, testing, upgrading, etc.) and made available in both single-user and server versions.
What is way cool: you DON’T need this big data extension to access HIVE- you can do it with KNIME open source as well. But if your organization requires certification and/or “locked down” versions into other commercial systems, or just to take advantage of some of the performance features built into the the KNIME big data nodes, then this is just a low hanging fruit: with a small price you get big data nodes that are Cloudera certified and pre-configured avoiding you the hassle of setting the connection to Hive.
I truly believe KNIME has cracked the nut: always keeping the platform open (and free) to guarantee you can implement and run any analytic task, while creating commercial extensions to make it more productive, more collaborative, and more performant; soproving that you CAN have your free lunch– and KNIME can eat too. Find more information about KNIME Software on our software webpage.
38 years of data whispering – 25 of which as an executive at SAS – have earned Phil Winters the moniker “the Father of Customer Intelligence”. He’s a renowned thought leader, keynote speaker and author championing the customer perspective – and was so convinced by using KNIME that he’s now on the company’s executive board.