How to NOT Hold your Customers' Data Hostage

Easily one of the most frequent areas of concern we get asked about centers around how we store data. Customers want to know that they’ll be able to get their information and analysis back out if they ever decide to stop using Visallo. As the recent dispute between the NYPD and Palantir shows, this concern is not unfounded.

Locking customers into our platform has never been a goal of ours, but sometimes words alone aren’t enough to ease entrenched fears of vendor lock-in. That’s why we’ve committed to the following two big initiatives to demonstrate that we’re serious about not holding our customers’ data hostage.

  1. Documented Storage Format - Everything we store in Visallo goes into a datastore named Vertexium, our custom-build graph database that runs on top of Apache Accumulo. Naturally, Vertexium has a specific format for storing data to make graph operations and analysis really efficient. But rather than hide this format behind a proprietary label, we document and publish it. In fact, you can view it on Github right now. A documented data storage format gives our customers the ability to write their own code to extract data, even if Visallo isn’t around anymore.
  2. Open Source Datastore - With Visallo, we decided to take things a step beyond simply documenting our data storage format; we made the whole graph database open source. This means that customers will still have a fully-functioning graph database even without Visallo.

If there’s a better way to demonstrate our disinterest in locking a customer’s data into our product, we can’t think of it. And while there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking or magical about these steps, few companies are willing to take them. So if you want to give your customers the peace of mind that you’re not trying to lock their data into your product, consider taking similar steps. Your customers will appreciate it.