Hortonworks acquires Onyara to bring analytics to a world of sensors

iot photo
Credit: Stephen Lawson

The Internet of Things, the buzzword du jour and something that every listed company worth its salt needs a solution for.


Hortonworks was one of the early cabs off the rank in terms of getting an IPO away for a company involved in analytics. The company is built around the open source Apache Hadoop project and focuses on developing, distributing, and supporting the Hadoop data platform. Much like how Red Hat rose to prominence through focusing on commercializing the open source Linux operating system, so too does Hortonworks build a commercial business on top of free software.

Hortonworks' platform is designed to integrate with existing IT investments so that enterprises can build broad-ranging applications that apply Hadoop-based analytics to the breadth of their IT assets. But today's trend - sensor data and the Internet of Things (IoT) - introduces a wrinkle into that strategy. Increasingly, enterprises see the IoT as an important part of their business and want to apply the same tools they use within their existing IT assets to their sensor data as well.

Which is why Hortonworks has made the decision to acquire Onyara,  the creator of and key contributor to Apache NiFi, a top-level open source project. Apache NiFi has been in development over the last eight years by the technologists at Onyara and was transitioned out of the NSA as part of the NSA Technology Transfer Program in 2014.  The rationale for the acquisition is that it will make it easy for customers to automate and secure data flows, and to collect, conduct, and curate real-time business insights and actions derived from data in motion. An early indication of how this deal will be important to Hortonworks going forward comes with the company's announcement that it is introducing Hortonworks DataFlow powered by Apache NiFi, which is complementary to the Hortonworks Data Platform.

This is a pretty important deal. As it stands, there is no one solution in the market today that does bi-directional intelligence. Many IoT applications need two-way connections and security from the edge to the data center and back again. Modern applications need access to both data-in-motion and data-at-rest. The idea of Hortonworks DataFlow powered by Apache NiFi is to simplify and accelerate the flow of data in motion into HDP for analytics.

This is partly a case of a publicly listed company making sure it can keep its shareholders happy and keep delivering increasing revenue and adjacent product areas. More importantly, however, it is an indication of how analytics is having to change in light of the growth of the IoT.

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