Pioneers Push Big Data Envelope
There are leaders and there are followers in the big data movement. This collection comprises a baker's dozen leaders. Some, like Amazon, Cloudera and 10Gen, were there at the dawn of the Hadoop and NoSQL movements. Others, like Hortonworks and Platfora, are newcomers, but draw on deep experience.
The three big themes you'll find in this collection are Hadoop maturation, NoSQL innovation and analytic discovery. The Hadoop crowd includes Cloudera, HortonWorks and MapR, each of which is focused entirely on bringing this big data platform to a broader base of users by improving reliability, manageability and performance. Cloudera and Hortonworks are improving access to data with their Impala and HCatalog initiatives, respectively, while MapR's latest push is improving HBase performance.
The NoSQL set is led by 10Gen, Amazon, CouchBase, DataStax and Neo Technologies. These are the developers and support providers behind MongoDB, DynamoDB, CouchBase, Cassandra and Neo4j, respectively, which are the leading document, cloud, key value, column and graph databases.
Big data analytic discovery is still in the process of being invented, and the leaders here include Datameer, Hadapt, Karmasphere, Platfora and Splunk. The first four have competing visions of how we'll analyze data in Hadoop, while the last specializes in machine-data analysis.
What you won't find here are old-guard vendors from the relational database world. Sure, some of those big-name companies have been fast followers. Some even have software distributions and have added important capabilities. But are their hearts really in it? In some cases, you get the sense that their efforts are window dressing. There are vested interests -- namely license revenue -- in sticking with the status quo, so you just don't see them out there aggressively selling something that just might displace their cash cows. In other cases, their ubiquitous connectors to Hadoop seem like desperate ploys for some big data cachet.
For many users, the key issues include flexibility, speed and ease of use. And it isn't clear that any single product or service can offer all of those capabilities at the moment.
We're still in the very early days of the big data movement, and as the saying goes, the pioneers might get the arrows while the settlers get the land. In our eyes, first movers like Amazon and Cloudera already look like settlers, and more than a few others on this list seem to have solid foundations in place. As we've seen before, acquisitions could change the big data landscape very quickly. But as of now, these are 13 big data pioneers that we're keeping our eyes on in 2013.