Hortonworks Hears An Opportunity With Onyara

Hortonworks is looking to create a bigger presence for itself in the Hadoop marketplace with the acquisition of startup Onyara, which specializes in NiFi development for Apache.
Real-Time Analytics: 10 Ways To Get It Right
Real-Time Analytics: 10 Ways To Get It Right
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Ever on the lookout to extend its presence in the Hadoop marketplace, Hortonworks is buying Onyara, a 10-person startup with expertise in security and Apache. The companies did not disclose financial details when announcing the deal on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The Onyara acquisition proves an age-old adage in the tech industry: If you need a new piece of technology, buy a company.

Onyara's Apache NiFi began life eight years ago in the National Security Agency as Niagarafiles, and is going public under the NSA's Technology Transfer Program.

NiFi automates data flows between computers, regardless of any differences in protocols or formats.

Hortonworks plans to integrate Onyara's technology into its Hortonworks DataFlow product, which promises users the ability to gain insights and make decisions in near real-time. DataFlow will be entirely open source. The product will be available by subscription along with Data Platform Enterprise and  Enterprise Plus subscriptions.

Expect to see a NiFi subscription offering in the next 30 days, said Shaun Connolly, Hortonworks vice president for corporate strategy.

"Hadoop analyzes data in motion and data at rest," Connolly told InformationWeek. But Hadoop is a "passive receiver" of the data stream, and the tool sets needed to get all the data into Hadoop are presently fragmented, he said.

Apache NiFi solves that problem through a drag-and-drop interface to interact with the data as it streams. For example, one could use NiFi to break out, parse, and analyze the subtitled text coming from a TV program, or to track Twitter feeds in real-time.

"This (Apache NiFi) can be very proactive in how you gather data."

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one likely source of data streams to come. But "stream" is an understatement, since the data generated could be likened more to a torrent or a tsunami, given the thousands or millions of sensors and social network feeds that could generate data on a normal day.

"In the Big Data space, the Internet of Things is an adjacent market with overlap." NiFi gives the user the ability to begin managing the data close to its point of creation and manage and analyze it from there throughout its life cycle.

Apache NiFi is a mature technology, already in use for the past eight years, he noted. Onyara incorporated only this past December, and opened its doors in March. "We scooped them up quickly," Connolly said.

The purchase of Onyara is only the third acquisition Hortonworks has done. The company had previously acquired SequenceIQ for is cloud-provisioning technology, and XA Secure, which focuses on data security.

While those acquisitions provided missing links for Hortonworks' Hadoop line-up, the Onyara acquisition is geared toward analyzing IoT data.


(Image: Hortonworks)

Financially, Hortonworks is pretty much in "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" mode, generating high growth punctuated by stiff net losses. Its financial second quarter showed revenues of $30.7 million, about 154% above the year-ago quarter. Gross billings clocked in at $41.8 million, again more than double the same quarter a year ago. But a net loss of $42.3 million was also logged, well above the $34.1 million net loss for the second quarter of last year.

[Read more about Hortonworks' latest financial results.]

Like any tech company, Hortonworks is trying to invent solutions to problems that do not exist yet.

That means crafting tools and applications that can shepherd big data through breakdown and analysis to gain useful insights and make better decisions, all in the hope that Hadoop becomes a corporate need in the near future. Despite that aim, Hadoop adoption is still in its early stages, since companies are still trying to figure out how it works best for them.