Digital Reasoning gets more dough for big data intelligence push

Digital Reasoning, a specialist in big data analytics, announced Series B funding and named industry veteran John Brennan, to its board. Funding came from a previous investor, the CIA-backed  In-Q-Tel, as well as individual Silver Lake Sumeru partners (including Brennan), and other unnamed private investors. The company did not disclose specific amounts but according to a Nov. 28 SEC filing, it raised $4.2 million out of a total equity offering of $7 million.

Companies like Digital Reasoning, which combine big data know-how with analytics expertise, are hot ticket items right now as government and commercial entities seek to make sense of massive amounts of historical and newly collected data for security and other applications.

Digital Reasoning’s technology takes text-based data and ferrets out relationships and action items. U.S. intelligence agencies, for example, get thousands upon thousands of field reports detailing meetings between people of interest. The company’s software sifts through those documents to find connections between people without agency operatives having to read them all.

As such, its software tries to “connect the dots” that were famously not connected before the 9/11 attacks. In that quest it competes with companies like Autonomy, now owned by Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ), NetBase and Attensity.

According to a report by The 451 Group analyst Nick Patience, Digital Reasoning’s flagship Synthesys product:

“is a text analysis platform that ingests large volumes of unstructured text, identifies the entities and relationships within it and then stores the resulting data in its knowledge base as so-called ‘knowledge objects.’ It is built for large scale and, as such, uses Apache Hadoop for ingesting and analyzing the data sets – almost all the analysis is done within Hadoop – and the Apache Cassandra database to store the data. It has an API and its own query language, called

Brennan, a managing partner with Silver Lake Sumeru since 2008, was previously in charge of Adobe Systems’ (s ADBE) creative professional business unit. Prior to that, he was SVP of Hewlett-Packard’s SMB segment operations.

The additional investment will help Digital Reasoning add staff to both its Washington, D.C. location and its Franklin, Tenn. development office and to branch out beyond its current government intelligence work to healthcare fraud detection and other commercial applications, said Dave Danielson, VP of marketing for the Franklin, Tenn.-based company.

Perhaps because of its tight ties with In-Q-Tel, an investment firm that focuses on technology to be used by members of the U.S. intelligence community, Digital Reasoning is a tad mysterious. But, as GigaOM’s Derrick Harris wrote recently, security is the next “killer app” for big data, and if that’s the case, companies like this one will be worth watching.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jonathan mcintosh