Hadoop According To Hortonworks: An Insider's View - InformationWeek
Data Management // Software Platforms
03:12 PM
Connect Directly

Hadoop According To Hortonworks: An Insider's View

Shaun Connolly, Hortonworks VP of corporate strategy, dishes on Hadoop 2.0., competition with Cloudera and the threat of big data commoditization.

IW: Cloudera clearly has a different strategy of building value on top of Hadoop. Can Hortonworks deliver enough value supporting foundation-sanctified software?

Connolly: We're part of the Apache Foundation and we're also part of the OpenStack Foundation. Those community models are important because they enable a lot more people to participate, and that drives the technology forward. Our fundamental belief is that the more people get involved, it doesn't slow things down, it results in higher quality technology. That's why we do things like the Stinger initiative, rallying the Apache community around more performance and SQL compliance. We reached out to Facebook, Microsoft and others who have engineers actively coding to help the Stinger initiative to achieve those goals. It isn't just Hortonworks.

What's our value? It's providing that type of leadership around things like Apache Knox for security, Apache Falcon for data lifecycle management. It isn't just Apache Hadoop, the project, much like it isn't just about Linux kernel. It's about the variety of data services and operational services that come in around Hadoop.

If we were going after this market as if we wanted to be the next Oracle for big data, then, yes, we would probably be doing commercial extensions of Hadoop and trying to differentiate ourselves that way. We think Hadoop's opportunity is much broader than that. When you see the likes of Microsoft telling the world that the Hortonworks Data Platform for Windows on-premises is the Hadoop you want, and that it's compatible with the Azure HD Insight Service, that pulls the technology into the market at a much faster pace than if we did everything ourselves or created commercial extensions to Hadoop.

IW: Intel is talking about putting Hadoop software on chips. Does that hint that Hadoop is becoming very standardized, commodity type technology?

Connolly: That's really a great question about Intel's strategy. We've seen some of their engineers working on some of the Hadoop projects, like HBase and security, but how does that translate into an Intel offering that is credible and how much they can push down onto the chip? I don't have that answer. Intel commits a lot to Linux, but an operating system is vastly different than a distributed data processing system. If Hadoop can take advantage of security features and other things that are built into chips, that's good. But it remains to be seen how that plays out.

IW: There were rumors that Intel was interested in buying Hortonworks, just as there were rumors that Microsoft took a run at the company last year. What is the end game for Hortonworks?

Connolly: Let me address that very specifically because there has also been speculation about our funding. Our series A round raised $23 million. Series B raised $25 million and the latest round, concluded in June, raised $50 million. We are running the company with the goal of becoming the dominant force in the next-generation data platform space. With the latest round of funding, our goal is to begin to get to cash-flow neutrality and profitability. That's how you prepare yourself to have the option to become a publicly traded company.

As far as acquisitions are concerned, rumors make for good Silicon Valley reality TV and discussion, but there have been no real offers for Hortonworks. People talk and stuff gets printed. The Microsoft acquisition assertion is patently false. It never happened. The Intel rumor came in advance of our latest funding round. Maybe somebody's signals got crossed and they made up that story.

At the end of the day, we're well capitalized and we're executing very well. Our goal is to drive Hortonworks as an independently run company. Acquisitions happen all the time, but we're not in the business to position ourselves to sell the company. There's a bigger opportunity than a quick-flip scenario.

3 of 3
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 7:14:03 PM
re: Hadoop According To Hortonworks: An Insider's View
Besides Stinger and Impala, another Apache project that provides SQL-On-Hadoop interactive speed capabilities is Apache Drill pulling in insprations from Dremel and other projects, has been making great progress with collaboration with multiple companies as well. It's soon to make Alpha and has a very flexible architecture.

User Rank: Strategist
8/21/2013 | 1:34:23 AM
re: Hadoop According To Hortonworks: An Insider's View
Ari Zilka lead a massive, modernizing redeployment of the Java backend of Wal-Mart's web site (Mark Towfiq lead the user interaction side), then generalized the technology for Terracotta's in-memory data management system. Terracotta applied a big speed up to the way Java applications could handle data. He's the right successor to Hortonworks founding CTO Eric Baldeschweiler..
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 2:06:58 PM
re: Hadoop According To Hortonworks: An Insider's View
This was a long interview and I had to cut some good stuff. I pressed the point about Hortonwork's strategy in this exchange:

IW: Doesn't Hortonwork's strategy kind of put it in the background -- a
services company that takes a back seat to partners like Microsoft and

Connolly: It doesn't put us in the background. If you look at the Teradata Unified Data Architecture, our box is one of three that they advertise to the market as part of a best-of-breed big data architecture. We're a technology platform provider. We're not a database provider. We're not going to focus only on SQL; that's just one of the workloads that the platform can and should support. So when you say, "are we going to run out of gas on things that can be done around Hadoop," we think the party has just started. If you look at the number of committers that we have, there are 21 at Hortonworks versus seven or eight at Cloudera. That's just the Apache Hadoop project. We have approaching 80 direct committers across Hadoop, Hive, Pig and other projects, and we do the open source project releases in many of those. That's why we're valuable to our partners.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of Data and Analytics
Today's companies are differentiating themselves using data analytics, but the journey requires adjustments to people, processes, technology, and culture. 
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll