Stringing together blocks visually can be simple after you get a feel for what the components actually do and don't do. This was easier for me to figure out when I started looking at the source code being assembled behind the canvas. Talend lets you see this, and I think it's an ideal compromise. Visual programming may seem like a lofty goal, but I've found that the icons can never represent the mechanisms with enough detail to make it possible to understand what's going on. I need the source code.
Talend also maintains TalendForge, a collection of open source extensions that make it easier to work with the company's products. Most of the tools seem to be filters or libraries that link Talend's software to other major products such as Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. You can suck down information from these systems into your own projects, simplifying the integration.
Big data tools: Skytree Server Not all of the tools are designed to make it easier to string together code with visual mechanisms. Skytree offers a bundle that performs many of the more sophisticated machine-learning algorithms. All it takes is typing the right command into a command line.
Skytree is more focused on the guts than the shiny GUI. Skytree Server is optimized to run a number of classic machine-learning algorithms on your data using an implementation the company claims can be 10,000 times faster than other packages. It can search through your data looking for clusters of mathematically similar items, then invert this to identify outliers that may be problems, opportunities, or both. The algorithms can be more precise than humans, and they can search through vast quantities of data looking for the entries that are a bit out of the ordinary. This may be fraud -- or a particularly good customer who will spend and spend.
The free version of the software offers the same algorithms as the proprietary version, but it's limited to data sets of 100,000 rows. This should be sufficient to establish whether the software is a good match.
Big data tools: Tableau Desktop and Server Tableau Desktop is a visualization tool that makes it easy to look at your data in new ways, then slice it up and look at it in a different way. You can even mix the data with other data and examine it in yet another light. The tool is optimized to give you all the columns for the data and let you mix them before stuffing it into one of the dozens of graphical templates provided.