• As with many pure play software vendors reared on the slow but steady revenue stream of on-premises perpetual licensing, Qlik knows it must make the transition to the cloud.
• Now that the firm’s sale to Thoma Bravo is complete, Qlik is using hopeful that its newfound stature as a private company will allow the freedom necessary to endure short term disruptions in favor of long term benefits.
This week I had the pleasure of attending Qlik’s annual analyst meeting, the Qlik UnSummit, held in Miami Florida. Surprisingly, despite having endured a category four hurricane (Hurricane Matthew) just a fortnight earlier, local Miami businesses and beachgoers seemed entirely unchanged and unharmed by the storm (I know; I was there just prior to Matthew’s arrival). That’s the way forces of nature work. They are unpredictable in the extreme. You have to plan for and expect the worst all while hoping for the best, knowing that unseen and unknowable variables will ultimately decide the outcome.
This post-storm conference setting in Miami seemed eerily appropriate for Qlik, since the firm is currently enduring a major storm of its own. Within the past 60 days private equity firm Thoma Bravo finalized its acquisition of Qlik, resulting in not only the withdrawal of Qlik stock but also an immediate staff reduction. That’s a lot for the residence of Qlik (its employees, partners and customers to be specific) to endure. And this whirlwind of change is just getting started. The company is still very much in the midst of modernizing its analytics applications portfolio, maintaining QlikView while promoting Qlik Sense. And it has yet to fully open up operations online in support of large-scale enterprise deployments.
Unlike the idea of enduring a hurricane, however, the anticipated outcome here isn’t simply to survive by pushing premises software to the cloud. Qlik intends to emerge as a fully hybrid cloud/premises analytics platform company capable of truly operationalizing business intelligence (BI). That’s a tall order to be sure. Fortunately, Qlik is architecturally well-prepared for this transition having already re-architected its platform to accommodate modern data center architectural requirements.
The Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX) is gaining the ability to handle big data at rest and in motion. Qlik Analytics Platform (QAP) has already been containerized for both partner/customer and internal development efforts. There’s a new, free sandbox available to developers. The company has recently acquired Industrial CodeBox (makers of many data connectors). And Qlik is already connecting with and running its software on numerous public cloud platforms (notably Amazon Web Services, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure). That’s a great start and can be viewed as reasonably well-fortified foundation with which Qlik can weather the storm. But it’s not enough.
For Qlik to not merely remain viable in the enterprise data and analytics marketplace but also compete head-on with mega cloud providers like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, et al., it is going to need some magic. By that I mean Qlik must preserve and build upon its associated indexing capability, convincing developers, data professionals and business users that Qlik is uniquely capable of seeing and revealing the hidden relationships within any data selection — be that data big, little, fast, slow, premises, cloud, whatever. As one Qlik customer put it during the UnSummit, “Qlik let’s you do an outer-join without paying the price.” (Trust me, you don’t want to do full outer joins willy nilly across large data sets.)
Now if Qlik can preserve that capability as it pushes into the cloud and tackles big data architectures and high volume use cases like IoT, showing how unanticipated data associations can directly drive positive business outcomes, I think the firm will be able to outlast other pure players and successfully keep pace with the vendor community’s current fascination with artificial intelligence as a means of differentiation.