Who I Hear Is Who At Hortonworks

New CEO rides string of partnerships

For almost a month now there have been rumors and whispers about what is going on over at Hortonworks. The much ballyhooed Hadoop spin off from Yahoo was expected to be a leader in the Big Data gold rush. Competition, the realities of building a business in a new space versus the hype of the market and inflated expectations seemed to take some of the bloom off of the rose. Then a little musical chairs, reshuffling of the executive team and people start to wonder. Well I am here to tell you that all is well at Hortonworks. 

I had a chance to speak with the new CEO, former COO, Rob Bearden about what is going on at Hortonworks and really little has changed.  Former CEO and now CTO Eric Baldeschwieler is still doing what he always has, leading the Hadoop engineering team. Eric is passionate about Hadoop, a huge open source supporter and truly best suited to that role.  Bearden is also passionate about open source and most importantly has been around the block more than once in taking an open source model and growing a real business around it.

As Eric wrote in his blog post responding to some of the rumors, Hortonworks is 100% committed to the pure open source model. Yes there has also been some shuffling, coming and goings in some of the other executive team positions, but that is to be expected whenever you have a new CEO. Nothing unusual there, move along.

While Cloudera's relationship with Oracle did have Hortonworks take notice, it was as much for a validation of the Hadoop space as anything. Hortonworks has been busy announcing a bevy of relationships themselves recently. Teradata, Talend and Attunity have all announced partnerships with Hortonworks. But the biggest partnership with the most far reaching implications is the Microsoft relationship. It seems that Microsoft has settled on Hadoop as its big data solution of choice. It also seems that they have settled on Hortonworks as its Hadoop partner of choice. While some may poo poo the Redmond's team continued influence, especially on something like Hadoop, they still bring a lot of eyeballs and cash to the party. If Microsoft were to decide to go "all in" on Hadoop as part of Azure, what better an acquisition for them than Hortonworks?

On top of this Hortonworks has also launched Hortonworks University, a training program to graduate more Hadoop developers. This is key to something that Bearden mentioned to me in our conversation. For all of the hoopla around Hadoop today, there really is not a viable business yet. There is not enough infrastructure around Hadoop.  That is there is not a full ecosystem. If you as a company want to develop on Hadoop today who do you call? Are there enough Hadoop developers and consultants for you to competitively bid out the job? Does IBM, HP or some of the big consulting practices have a Hadoop practice fully staffed yet? Until we see those things Bearden says you won't see Hadoop really having the impact it should.  Hortonworks University is a big step in that direction.

Through it all though, the commitment from the Hortonworks team is to Apache Hadoop and to 100% free open source. While they have rolled out a platform, which some say dilutes their original services only model, the core values and beliefs have not changed. Hortonworks is still poised to be a leader in the Hadoop market. Having viable competition will make them and the whole space better.

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