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Also posted on: The IM Blog
It is easy to say what Kapow (the product) is: it’s a web data server that is available either as a product or via software as a service (SaaS). However, that doesn’t tell you what it does or, more especially, what it can be used for. This is because web data services have such broad applicability within the enterprise. For example, Kapow can be used to power BI applications based on social media data for improved predictive analytics, or to enable and extend the value of mashups with real-time web data, or to automate content migration from one content management store to another. That’s quite a range!
Regardless of the business use, the point about Kapow is that you can, without any coding, access any web-enabled source, extract content from it, combine that content with any other similarly captured content and then use the results in more or less any way that you wish. The database module, for example, extends this capture capability to information stored in leading SQL databases or generated by leading search or business intelligence products.
You can use Kapow as an ETL (extract, transform and load) tool for any web-based content, with the product’s Design Studio as a visual IDE for defining transforms (which don’t just have to be for content and could be for directly building applications); you can use portal clipping, along with other capabilities, to build mash-ups; you can use Kapow’s native capabilities to support the collection of data for analytic purposes, such as sentiment analysis derived from Twitter feeds and, with the content migration module, you can automate all the migration of content into your new CMS (content management system).
So we can’t adequately define Kapow by what it does because it can be used in lots of different ways. On the other hand, saying that it is a Web Data Server hardly conjures up the range of environments in which Kapow can be used. Which means that we need to get down to fundamentals: what exactly is it that Kapow does under the covers?
In practice, Kapow is about collecting web-enabled or database-held information, manipulating it and then passing the aggregated and transformed data to an application that wants to process that data in some way. Now, you could say that that’s what a data integration tool does and, indeed, Kapow certainly has functionality that overlaps with products in that category. On the other hand you wouldn’t use Kapow for loading data from an operational database into a data warehouse (though you might use it for loading external web-based data to augment internal data).
There’s one other thing (actually there are several) that I haven’t mentioned and that is that you can use Kapow to wrap a web application and expose it as a service. Now, I think, we are getting to the heart of the matter: Kapow captures and presents information on demand (though I hesitate to use that term, since it is almost proprietary). In other words, Kapow is a Web data services product, giving you agile access to anything you can see in a browser. What’s more I like it. I like it a lot.