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Ocient raises $49.4M to grow hyperscale database capabilities

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Hyperscale data warehouse vendor Ocient is raising $49.4 million in new funding, it announced today, as the company looks to grow its capabilities for new industry use cases and continuing demand for artificial intelligence (AI). The new funding brings the total amount raised by the company to $119 million.

Ocient was founded in 2016 by CEO Chris Gladwin after he sold his prior company Cleversafe for $1.3 billion to IBM in 2015. The primary goal behind the company is to build and deliver a data analytics platform that can scale to hyperscale workloads, that might include trillions of rows of data. Ocient expanded its namesake data platform in 2023 with machine learning and geospatial capabilities. 

Ocient aims to differentiate itself against other data warehouse technologies such as Snowflake, by having a focus on the largest datasets and enabling organizations to analyze them rapidly to help improve business outcomes. With the new funding the company is looking to further expand its offerings, with specific capabilities for different industry verticals that have a need to analyze massive datasets.

When the company was founded, Gladwin laid out an initial 12 year plan for Ocient, which is regularly updated. Now, eight years later, the core founding premise of Ocient remains intact.

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“Among the fundamental pieces we had in the initial plan is that people working in organizations are going to want to analyze an ever growing amount of data,” Gladwin told VentureBeat. “That’s not exactly a giant revelation but it has turned out to be true.”

Ocient helping to enable AI at scale

One of Ocient’s features is its ability to help organizations  transform their data for use in AI and machine learning applications.

The process of transforming raw data into a usable format for advanced analytics techniques can be complex and time-consuming, especially when dealing with hyperscale datasets like Ocient’s customers often have.

Ocient is active in the telco, ad technology and security markets, where organizations have large dataset that could have a trillion rows of information.

To overcome this challenge, Gladwin said that Ocient enables its users to preprocess and transform their data, making it readily available for AI and ML applications. The OcientML service which was announced in 2023, provides a set of AI/ML functions that helps with clustering and regression query operations.

“You can  have insights but you have to pre-calculate the math before you can have the insights,” he said.

An increasingly common way for database vendors overall to support generative AI in particular is with the use of vector embeddings. Ocient supports vectors as a datatype for basic analysis, including native linear algebra functionality. However, Ocient does not currently support vector embedding workflows commonly associated with gen AI.

Ocient does have plans to add a similarity index on its roadmap, so that it can support massive vector-embedding database workflows, including AI use cases for its customers in the future.

Ocient set to grow vertical focus

In terms of direction, Gladwin said the plan is to take the Ocient hyperscale data warehouse to more vertical markets.

To date core markets for Ocient have included telco, security,adtech and financial services. The company is now building out capabilities for climate intelligence which is increasingly important for multiple use cases including real estate, urban planning and agriculture among others.

“Climate intelligence is the ability to analyze the climate and its effects,” Gladwin said. “Traditionally you needed a supercomputer to do something like that and what we’ve been demonstrating is, you can run it on a small cluster of inexpensive servers.

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