With many of the new providers of data visualization and BI platforms delivering their services from the cloud think Birst, ClearStory, Chartio, and GoodData -- Zoomdata says it can offer more flexibility by offering its product as server software. The company is announcing today a $17 million investment led by Accel Partners.

The BI market is in the midst of major changes. The new vendors are all aiming to give more people within an organization the chance to crunch data in order to make smarter decisions. Historically, BI products have been costly and also difficult to implement and use. The result is that only a couple of people in a business have the skills to run reports.

Zoomdata's founder and CEO Justin Langseth worked at MicroStrategy in the late 1990s building Web-based tools. But around two years ago he set out to build a product from scratch that was optimized for current generation backends and front ends. That means Zoomdata is designed to work with the kind of data systems companies use today, like software based on Hadoop or MongoDB or services like Amazon Web Service's RedShift or RDS.

Zoomdata was also designed to work well on a variety of devices. Users access it from a computer via a browser or on an iPad app.

But when it comes to delivering the technology, Zoomdata opted for the old-fashioned way its product is available as server software.

"When we started looking at the market we realized there were quite a number of companies who are building cloud BI," Langseth said. "We didn't think taking it to the cloud would differentiate us really."

Plus, "big data has inertia," he said. "There's so much data out there that the physics of moving it to the cloud don't make sense."

Some Zoomdata customers run the software in the cloud, if they are already collecting data there. But offering Zoomdata as server software gives customers the option to run it where it makes most sense, he said.

In addition, offering the product as server software also lets customers embed Zoomdata's technology into their own products. That lets businesses offer dashboarding or other visualizations in a white label fashion from within their products.

However, some analysts say they expect most BI products to shift to a cloud model, driven in part by the trend from businesses to shift more of their data to the cloud. In addition, a cloud service eliminates headaches for businesses that don't want to have to manage software, whether they do so on-premises or in a public cloud.

Tableau has a similar model as Zoomdata, offering its technology as software. 

Zoomdata hopes to set itself apart in other ways, though. It has developed technology it calls a "micro-query engine" that breaks requests into tiny queries so that it can start delivering results in under a second. It displays essentially an estimated result that sharpens as the user views it. The idea is to give a user results immediately, rather than requiring them to wait minutes for a query that might have to process mounds of data.

Zoomdata also offers a neat feature that could come in handy for embedded visualizations. It allows users to replay a visualization, showing how results change over time. The feature could be useful for a user who might want to, for example, embed a graph showing a stock's performance into a blog post. Users could see the graph as it looked when the post was written but then slide a timeline bar to view how the stock has performed since that time.

Zoomdata didn't reveal pricing but said it charges for its server software based on number of cores. The price doesn't change based on users, number of data sources, or data volume, the company said.  

Langseth plans to use the new investment to try to grow the business. Zoomdata currently has 20 paying enterprise customers. It plans to grow its sales team from one to 10 and hire a marketing team, in addition to adding new engineers.

The investment round was led by Accel Partners, with NEA, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Razor's Edge Ventures, and B7 also participating.