BusinessWeek has a cover story on Palantir including this on its Foundry product
“Palantir’s newest product, Foundry, aims to finally break through the profitability barrier with more automation and less need for on-site engineers. Airbus SE, the big European plane maker, uses Foundry to crunch airline data about specific onboard components to track usage and maintenance and anticipate repair problems. Merck KGaA, the pharmaceutical giant, has a long-term Palantir contract to use Foundry in drug development and supply chain management.”
Why are Palantir products so complex?
A personal opinion from Ethan Bond at Quora because the tools are used in highly sensitive applications.
“Let’s take the example of a minor feature I’ve been building out recently: commenting. This is exactly what it sounds like. We want to allow users to comment on datasets and analysis artifacts to collaborate with each other. We want them to be able to @mention other users to invite them to take a look at some analysis.
Sounds easy, right?
A few issues: Let’s say a user mentions another user in a comment on a dataset. We can’t notify recipients about datasets that they don’t have access to, as it leaks information about the existence of the dataset. We also can’t tell the commenter exactly who has what amount of access to the dataset, because it’d leak privilege information about the recipient. Now let’s assume the recipient does have access. We’d like her to receive an email about this comment. But that email can’t contain any information about the contents of the dataset because data can’t be sent over email. So now you might get an ambiguous “X User commented on Y Dataset.” If a user is getting too many notifications, she might want to unsubscribe – but for security reasons, in order to do that she’d likely have to log in through her employer’s network which you often can’t do (easily) from your phone. To alleviate this we might want to batch the notifications, but given the nature of our clients, some notifications are truly urgent and we don’t have a way to automatically and reliably differentiate urgent from non-urgent notifications. Now let’s say the commenter’s company is merging with another company, and as part of the merge, both userbases (Company A and Company B) will have access to the same datasets, but they won’t have the ability to know that the other company’s userbase exists until after the merger is completed.
A bit more complicated than your standard commenting feature, eh?”