Sisense vs Qlik Sense Summary
Sisense and Qlik Sense present users with easy-to-use, drag and drop interfaces for chart and dashboard creation. Sisense distinguishes itself primarily through its ease of use and performance. Much work has been done to exploit contemporary commodity hardware for maximum query performance on multidimensional data. Qlik Sense is a relatively new offering from Qlik, and it too has been engineered for ease of use, although the hardware tuning found in Sisense is not so evident in Qlik Sense. However the data discovery capability delivered by its associative data engine means relationships between data sources are understood, and this aids data exploration in a way that no other product currently does. Qlik Sense is also very extendible, with APIs and a scripting language that mean new chart types can be built, bespoke connections to data sources created, visualizations can be embedded in other applications and users can get raw access to the data engine if needed. Sisense on the other hand doesn’t typically need the data preparation and shaping that other products need – it’s clever use of memory means data can be handled in a much more flexible manner.
Qlik Sense is a drag-and-drop data visualization and discovery platform capable of addressing most business intelligence needs apart from heavy duty production reporting. It delivers an easy-to-use interface suited to all levels of skill, and has a substantial amount of in-built intelligence to help users along. Charts, tables and dashboards are its main currency, of almost any level of complexity – or simplicity. Users can share their visualizations via various mechanisms and the platform was built ground up for mobile access – no matter the device (visualizations are rendered in HTML5).
Perhaps the most significant Qlik Sense differentiator is its associative data engine. This understands the links between various data sources and can suggest previously unsuspected relationships. Many suppliers use the term ‘data discovery’, but this facility adds new meaning to the term.
It comes in two versions – Qlik Sense Desktop, which is free to download and is not throttled in any way. It runs on a Windows desktop and is capable of accessing many data sources. Qlik Sense Enterprise runs on a server(s) and provides users with a browser based interface. Both editions have similar functionality, but the server platform can scale to serve global distributed enterprises through its excellent scalability and distributed architecture. Qlik has always offered excellent governance of its environment, and IT has the tools to ensure data is secure, unambiguous and that the right people get to the right data.
Very importantly Qlik Sense is extensible. Not a very sexy attribute perhaps, but one that distinguishes the adults from the children in the world of enterprise business intelligence. In fact Qlik Sense is one large extension, built on itself! A large number of APIs are available for embedding visualizations into production applications, creating custom data connectors and building new visualization types. Developers will have absolutely no problem extending Qlik Sense, if that is what is needed. Finally Qlik Sense is fast – its in-memory columnar associative engine guarantees that.
Qlik Sense is the perfect fit for organizations who need easy-to-use data visualization and discovery tools, but may also want the head room to accommodate more advanced levels of sophistication. It is an enterprise solution, with its governance and developer support capabilities. Businesses looking for an enterprise production reporting platform (invoices etc) should look elsewhere, as should users who needs a few simple charts, since they would find Qlik Sense overkill.
Sisense delivers on the promise of self-service business intelligence through its flexible data handling, easy to use interface, and very high levels of performance. These three features work hand-in-hand to make the user experience flow smoothly and quickly. Behind the easy to use interface are some interesting innovations. Most contemporary BI platforms utilize a columnar database for in-memory processing. This is ideal for modest data sets and when data values repeat with a reasonable degree of frequency. However these same databases can struggle when data sets become large (multi-terabyte) and when data values are frequently unique. To overcome these problems Sisense uses what it calls in-chip technology. This makes use of the memory native to contemporary processor chips, which is typically tens of times faster than RAM memory. This enables a fundamentally different approach to data processing, with the result that Sisense can effectively shape data on-the-fly as it processes queries. So large amounts of data do not have to be loaded into memory, which in itself can be a slow process, and the user is free to formulate queries without any preparation of the data.
At the heart of the data processing architecture of Sisense is the Elasticube columnar database. Please note, this is not an in-memory database and as such does not suffer from relatively low data volume thresholds. When a query is executed only the columns that are needed are loaded into memory, allowing the complete query to be executed in RAM and the processor cache memory.
Sisense supports the embedding of BI functionality into other applications, or the creation of stand-alone BI services. A REST APi is the primary mechanisms for embedding and support for single sign on and rebranding make it attractive to organizations wishing to provide a service to partners and customers. Features such as multi-tenancy support, mobile compatibility, security at database, user and row level and a choice of web or Windows clients provide the features that many users will need.
Sisense 6 will be released near the end of the year and promises to increase the open architecture of the platform, and embrace advanced analytics through an interface with R. The product already supports third party graphics libraries such as D3, and a new ODBC interface will allow third party reporting tools to access Sisense’s very fast database technology. This is a welcome move, allowing Sisense to focus on what it does best, while extending functionality to embrace other BI functions such as production reporting.