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Alex Solutions

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Alex Solutions is an Australian start-up, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It entered the US market in 2018, and the UK market in 2019. As such, it has clients across all three areas, although as you might expect, its client base within Australia is particularly strong.

Alex Solutions (logo)

Company Info

Headquarters: 101 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3001 Australia
Telephone: +61 3 9650 1000

Alex Solutions

Last Updated: 12th February 2019
Mutable Award: One To Watch 2018

Alex Solutions is, in principle, an enterprise level solution for metadata management. In truth, Alex Solutions is not easy to describe in terms of a single use case. In actuality, the product is well equipped to handle several use cases, including data governance/data stewardship, data cataloguing, and data quality, especially where data lineage and traceability is a requirement. It is available both in-cloud and on-premises.

Customer Quotes

“Alex has helped our governance and data stewardship implementation. We look forward to utilizing Alex more and to add more of its new scanners in the future.”
Energy Retailer

“The Scanner Orchestration user interface is very good. The overall user interface consistency was evident and important to support our continued rollout across the bank.”
Retail Bank

“We were initially attracted to Alex for the metadata lineage feature, but as we explored further the overall visual interface and depth of features has continued to impress our entire team.”
Global Telco

Figure 1 A selection of products compatible with ALEX Intelligent Scanners

Figure 1 A selection of products compatible with ALEX Intelligent Scanners

Alex Solutions uses ALEX Intelligent Scanners to collect metadata located throughout your system, then catalogue and profile it within a single platform. These scanners are exposed in the Scanner Marketplace, which allows you to manage any ongoing scanners, view a scan history, and schedule upcoming scans.

ALEX Intelligent Scanners are technology agnostic, meaning that they do not care where or how your metadata is stored. This includes compatibility with a wide range of third party products and formats; a selection of these are shown in Figure 1, and this list is being updated on a regular basis. This means that you can capture metadata from all the different components within your system and catalogue it all in a single location. This is clearly a major boon when it comes to cataloguing, governing, and otherwise just managing the metadata within a complex environment.

In addition to capturing metadata that already exists, Alex Solutions’ scanners are able to infer and subsequently generate new metadata which up until now had only existed implicitly, such as in logging information or usage statistics. This can be useful, for example, for identifying patterns in your metadata which have not been stated explicitly and that you may not even know about.

Moreover, you have the option of adding policy rules to the scanning process. When these are utilised, the product’s scanners will test incoming metadata to see if it complies with your policy rules and add additional business context to support analysis activities. For example, you could create a policy rule that would automatically flag sensitive data that is insufficiently protected. These scans can also be scheduled to run on existing metadata. An integrated workflow feature is also available to support and track relevant personnel and requests to support appropriate actions on the underlying data.

Similarly, you can leverage your scanners to automatically tag incoming metadata. This can be done deterministically based on business rules, or using pattern recognition via machine learning (also known as ‘Intelligent Tagging’). Tags can also be assigned manually after-the-fact within the Data Marketplace, with a full audit history of any edits made.

Figure 2 The Alex Solutions Data Marketplace

Figure 2 The Alex Solutions Data Marketplace

The Data Marketplace itself is shown in Figure 2. It allows you to access and explore the metadata you have collected via your scans in a variety of different ways. The home page, as you can see in Figure 2, is a dashboard that displays, among other things, a high-level summary of your collected metadata. The “explore” page goes into further detail in this regard, allowing you to view, search and filter your metadata before drilling down to see more detail. Note that all metadata ingested into the platform is indexed to enable highly performant searching and filtering. You are also able to view data flows or data lineage through your system, as well as subsets of those data flows that pertain to a particular data asset (known as a data map). The other tabs in this screenshot – capture, explore, analyse and action – do what their names suggest. For example, the “analyse” option allows you to view a variety of automatically generated analytics regarding your data, including, for example, data usage and compliance analytics.

There are two major business drivers for the adoption of solutions such as Alex. The first relates to leveraging the value of data, and the second to the protection or governance of data. One of the biggest drivers for data governance, and even more so for data cataloguing, is the need to manage all of your data (and therefore all of the metadata) within a complex environment composed of a large and diverse selection of products and tools. For example, particularly with the advent of GDPR, every organisation needs to discover and keep track of its sensitive data. This is much easier, safer and more efficient when you can identify that sensitive data consistently and universally across all of your data assets, rather than requiring a separate implementation for every part of your environment. This is one of the areas in which Alex Solutions excels, allowing you to view – and act on – your system holistically, rather than as a series of silos.

More than that, the quantity and value of data available to organisations is increasing at a rapid pace. According to IDC, it is doubling every two years. This has a number of knock-on effects, but two are particularly pertinent. First, the demand for data and metadata within organisations has increased, to the point that requiring business users to go through IT to be able to access or examine their data is often too slow. This is rapidly making self-service a must-have. Second, when dealing with Big Data, you need a system for automatically curating and profiling it: there is simply too much of it for organising it by hand to be feasible. Alex Solutions addresses both of these issues. For the former, it provides self-service via the data marketplace. For the latter, it features automatic data profiling and intelligent tagging.

The Bottom Line

It’s difficult to classify Alex Solutions, because it fits well into several different categories. If you’re after a data catalogue, or a metadata management solution, it certainly qualifies. It’s a capable product for data governance and data quality, too. In any of these cases, it is certainly worth consideration, particularly if your environment consists of a large number of different products. All in all, it is not a product to be dismissed lightly.


Mutable Award: One To Watch 2018
The image in this Mutable Quadrant is derived from 13 high level metrics, the more the image covers a section the better. 
Execution metrics relate to the company, Technology to the product, Creativity to both technical and business innovation and Scale covers the potential business and market impact.

Alex Solutions Data Governance

Last Updated: 14th July 2020

Alex Solutions is a platform that provides a range of metadata management capabilities, including data governance, data stewardship, data quality, data lineage, and data migration. It is available both in-cloud and on-premises (and in fact boasts a particularly strong strategy for the cloud) and strives to be ‘single, simple and social’ by providing a unified, enterprise-ready and technology agnostic platform that readily supports collaboration and is easy to use for both business and technical users.

Customer Quotes

“Alex has helped our governance and data stewardship implementation. We look forward to utilizing Alex more and to add more of its new scanners in the future.”
Energy Retailer

“The Scanner Orchestration User Interface is very good. The overall User Interface consistency was evident and important to support our continued role out across the bank.”
Retail Bank

“We were initially attracted to Alex for the metadata lineage feature, but as we explored further the overall visual interface and depth of features has continued to impress our entire team.”
Global Telco

Fig 01 - The Alex Hub

Fig 01 - The Alex Hub

Alex Solutions offers what it describes as autonomous, highly automated data governance. It uses intelligent scanners to automatically harvest, parse and ingest metadata across a wide range of metadata sources, including both structured and unstructured data. What’s more, a variety of prebuilt scanners are available in order to accommodate a wide range of third-party products, solutions and technologies. Your scanners will automatically leverage policy rules created within the platform to tag and/or create additional business context for any incoming metadata – for example, sensitive data could be identified as such – and you can also tag your data using AI-driven pattern recognition. What’s more, your intelligent scanners are available for configuration, execution and monitoring (of their health, performance and so on) through the Alex Hub, a centralised point of orchestration and control for the operation of the Alex platform (see Figure 1).

The metadata you’ve ingested through your scanners is exposed within the Alex Data Marketplace, which effectively acts as both a data marketplace and as a data catalogue. It can be accessed either via exploration, assisted by configurable asset filters (‘facets’), or through both simple and advanced search capabilities. Notably, the marketplace provides a ‘map view’, that generates a graph visualisation of your data assets and the relationships between them. In this view, your assets can be grouped together by various properties, such as associated application or business domain, or drilled down into to see more detail. Workflows are supported, and can be initiated from within the marketplace itself. Finally, you’re able to ‘lock’ a selection of assets, enabling you to search through, explore and drill into that content specifically. A business glossary capability is also available as part of the Alex platform. This acts as a way to define, explore and discuss your business terms, and includes commenting and other collaborative capabilities. In addition, it allows you to associate your business terms with the broader contents of your data marketplace.

All of the above – in fact, the whole of the Alex platform – is underpinned by AI and machine learning capabilities, which contribute to the autonomous nature of the product. For example, machine learning is used to generate suggested associations and classifications for your data assets and business terms.  You’re then invited to approve or reject these suggestions, and this (as well as other feedback) is fed back into the product’s machine learning model, thus improving future predictions and recommendations.

Fig 02 - Data lineage within the Alex platform

Alex Solutions also promotes and supports a cloud-first strategy: the platform’s intelligent scanners can collect metadata from cloud platforms, as well as data catalogues that sit within the cloud; it can leverage cloud platforms and capabilities during deployment; and we are told that it will soon be available through various cloud marketplaces. The former capability, in particular, allows the platform to provide a centralised view of all of your metadata, even across multiple clouds and (cloud) data catalogues.

Other capabilities offered by the product include automated data quality and data security, as well as real-time, cross-system, visualised data lineage and impact analysis (see Figure 2).

Alex Solutions performs well in a number of areas that are important for data governance, including ease of use, automation, collaboration, and breadth of capability. The emphasis it places on automation is particularly useful, and is noticeable throughout the platform, but especially within its intelligent scanners and machine learning capabilities. In fact, its scanners are very impressive in general, due to the aforementioned automation as well as the fact that they are centrally managed (via the Alex Hub) and highly integrable (both in terms of metadata sources and third-party technologies). The ability for your scanners to either deterministically or intelligently tag incoming metadata is also notable. The platform also offers a significant degree of scalability, and is able to operate at enterprise scale.

The Bottom Line

Alex Solutions offers a highly autonomous and scalable metadata management platform that is compatible with the cloud as well as a wide range of both (meta)data sources and third-party products. These qualities – among others – make it very suitable for consolidating, managing and exposing all of your metadata within a single location: in short, for data governance.

Alex Solutions Data Governance mutable quadrant
Cover for Alex Solutions (InBrief)

Alex Solutions

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