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September 30, 2013
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Visualizing Big Data: Actuate, Hortonworks and BIRT

sandboxThis is a guest blog post from our partner, Actuate. They’ve been generous enough to create some great Hadoop tutorials on the Open Source BIRT project that use the Hortonworks Sandbox.

By now, Apache™ Hadoop® has become synonymous with the first stage of Big Data: storing, processing and managing huge volumes and varieties of structured and unstructured data. Yet the data stored by Hadoop remains unreadable to the average business user. There are no built-in data drive, data visualization or distribution capabilities to make Hadoop accessible and consumable to a large segment of an organization.

That’s why Actuate and Hortonworks have teamed up to enable Big Data visualization and analysis from Hadoop-based data. Hortonworks is an open source software provider that develops, distributes and supports an Apache Hadoop platform for enterprise-grade deployments. Actuate offers advanced visualization and analytics capabilities for Big Data, managed through the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) and Hadoop.


Hadoop stores data in key-value pairs. While the raw data is accessible to view, to be usable it needs to be presented in a more intuitive visualization format that will allow users to glean insights at a glance. While a business analytics tool can help business users gather those insights, to do so effectively requires a robust platform that can:

  • Work with expansive volumes of data
  • Offer standard and advanced visualizations, which can be delivered as reports, dashboards or scorecards
  • Be scalable to deliver these visualizations to a large number of users


When paired with Hortonworks, Actuate adds data visualization support for the Hadoop platform, using Hive queries to access data from Hortonworks. Actuate’s commercial product suite – built on open source Eclipse BIRT – extracts data from Hadoop, pulling data sets into interactive BIRT charts, dashboards and scorecards, allowing users to view and analyze data (see diagram below). With Actuate’s familiar approach to presenting information in easily modified charts and graphs, users can quickly identify patterns, resolve business issues and discover opportunities through personalized insights. This is further enhanced by Actuate’s inherent ability to combine Hadoop data with more traditional data sources in a single visualization screen or dashboard. 

A BIRT/Hortonworks “Sandbox” for both the Eclipse open source and commercial versions of BIRT is now available. As a full HDP environment on a virtual machine, the Sandbox allows users to start benefiting quickly from Hortonworks’ distribution of Hadoop with BIRT functionality.

For more details, Please visit our BIRT/Hortonworks resources page .

Benefits and Uses

 The highly embeddable personalized  analytics capabilities of Actuate’s BIRT-based platform presents data in a managed analytics environment, meeting the scale of Hadoop with scalability of its own, to give thousands of users intuitive data visualization capabilities. With rich API support, Actuate works behind the scenes to access Hadoop-based data, for a customizable and expandable solution. The resulting tool has uses across verticals, including the telecom, financial services, retail and healthcare industries, in business areas as diverse as customer data analytics, marketing analytics and segmentation, and medical research.

For more information on the Actuate/Hortonworks partnership, visit our resources page.


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