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One-on-One with Dataupia
Foster Hinshaw, President & CEO

by Maroushka Kanywani, Editor, Dashboard InsightWednesday, August 06, 2008

Dashboard Insight's Maroushka Kanywani recently spoke with Foster Hinshaw, President and CEO of Dataupia about data warehouse appliances and product development at Dataupia.

Maroushka Kanywani: Good morning, Foster. I think a good place to start this interview would be with the article that appeared in the Boston Business Journal where you were upgraded from “Father of data warehouse appliances” to “data king.” Could you please tell me more about your involvement with data warehousing?

Foster Hinshaw: The “data warehouse appliance” thing is something I really love because it is a term I coined probably 6 or 7 years ago and got Gartner to accept it as a new category. Creating a new category is always a fun thing. It’s fun to have a new space – to have identified an area where there is a lot of pain and that we can create solutions for that pain.

MK: In layman’s terms, how would you define an “appliance?”

FH: Well, there are two things going on with appliances and people tend to put the two things together when actually, they are quite separate. One aspect is the ability to have an extreme scalability database so that customers can capture, use and make actionable decisions on large data.

The second aspect relates to how you package and deliver and this is where the appliance comes in. The first one attacks the problem of large data; what has happened is that as our ability to collect data has increased tremendously, the underlying infrastructure did not keep up with it. That market is growing at least 20% per year and the amount of data is increasing about every 9 months. For example each time you use your card in a store or in every poker chip in the new casinos, there is an RFID chip that tracks the movement of each chip. What customers use this information for is to be able to provide better products and services for the consumer in an effort to get closer and closer to that nirvana of personalized services. So the next time you call your favorite retailer, they are going to come to you with a suite of things that are more in line with what you like to buy.

That is what this is all about; we are providing the infrastructure for our customers to go through reams of data in order to be able to provide the individual consumer with targeted products and services.

MK: In line with that, what is your view on those who are concerned with privacy issues as they relate to such information?

FH: I’m a libertarian and I believe in New Hampshire’s motto: “live free or die.” The pendulum, some people say, goes back and forth – I hope it goes forth. I think a lot of people have become paranoid over what could be a real threat but on the other hand, one has to ask for instance with driving – if 40,000 people a year die driving, do we want to restrict people’s right to drive in favor of fewer people dying?

MK: So it’s about a delicate balance.

FH: That’s right; it’s about balance. So the question is: has our paranoid treatment of the security aspect gone overboard? Clearly there’s a threat; there’s no question that there’s a threat but have we overreacted to it?

MK: So is your data always encrypted?

FH: As far as privacy and encryption are concerned, our customers are extremely aware of all the issues and take fairly stringent measures to ensure that the consumer’s data is protected. There are different levels of encryption used by different people, depending on where they are.

MK: So the encryption doesn’t fall on Dataupia’s shoulders per se.

FH: It can and often does but there is a larger issue beyond encryption which is really the overall ruggedness of the security around a given environment. There is a need to make sure that people who are not authorized are not even starting to look at that data.

Some customers for example, will make the data autonomous early in the process so they strip off identifying information such as marketing companies, for example. On the other hand, you get some customers such as your favorite retailer, who will keep some of that data – maybe not your credit card information – but data about you so that they can give you the service that you want. That’s why I say there’s a range there.

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