In their own words, Neo4j is evolving from being “just a graph database company” to becoming a full-fledged graph technology platform including analytics, ETL and visualization. Today, at their GraphConnect conference in New York, Neo4j announced a new Native Graph Platform that will add analytics, data import and transformation, visualization, and discovery all atop its graph database.
The announcement is not standalone. It comes alongside an open-source contribution to the Hadoop ecosystem. That Cypher, Neo4j’s graph query language, is now available for Apache Spark. It’s no secret that Neo4j wants to make Cypher the standard query language for graph, and now with all of the components in Native Graph Platform using Cypher, the new set of tools are sure to boost adoption.
This is why it’s more of a strategic shift. And far beyond facilitating a switch from graph database to graph solutions. It is, in fact, going to dramatically expand Neo4j’s enterprise footprint by establishing relationships with a variety of new users and roles, including data scientists, big data experts, IT business analysts and line-of-business managers.
The story about ‘evolving need of the customers’ is true. Today, customers do not deploy in isolation. We are living in a polyglot tech world with heterogeneous backends. Needs are bound to change. “Many companies started with us for retail recommendation engines or fraud detection, but now they need to drive their next generation of connected-data to power complex artificial intelligence applications,” CEO Emil Eifrem says.
“Our customers not only need a high performance, scalable graph database, they need algorithms to feed it, they need visualization tools to illustrate it, they need data integration to dive deeply into their data lakes,” Eifrem adds, hinting how the new Native Graph Platform would facilitate Neo4j’s ‘connections-first’ approach.
Whether for increased revenue, fraud detection or planning for a more connected future, building networks of connected data proves to be the single biggest competitive advantage for companies today. This will become even more evident in the future as machine learning, intelligent devices and real-time activities like conversational commerce are all dependent on connections. Probably this is why Neo4j is extending the reach of its native graph stack, which has already seen success across multiple use cases with organizations ranging from NASA to eBay to Comcast.
But what about the big giants like Oracle jumping into the competition? “When we got started, there was no one. Now, in past couple of years, everyone and their mom have released a graph database,” Eifrem said. “The space is very much heating up.”
“There are two sides to it. Of course, when you have Oracle, SAP, Amazon and Microsoft all announcing that they’re going to your space [it means] we’re up against, from our perspective, infinite resources – and that is scary.”
Yet, Neo4j is not scared. The crucial thing, according to Eifrem, is that the continued awareness has brought graph technology to the mainstream.
And that is where Neo4j sees more opportunity than threats. “We don’t have the biggest microphone in the world. We’ve stood alone on this mountain for the longest time, and now we have some really powerful voices joining in. That’s 10 times more important than losing the occasional deal because Oracle had a lock-in on that customer.”