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Cloudera snap up machine learning startup Myrrix

Cloudera has made its first purchase, snapping up the London machine learning startup Myrrix, as well as its founder.

Details of the acquisition were announced in a blogpost on Tuesday, where Myrrix founder Sean Owen explained that he would be joining the Hadoop vendor as Director of Data Science in London, as well as bringing some of the technology behind his company with him.

Myrrix was created 12 months ago, intending to commercialise machine learning by using Apache Hadoop and Apache Mahout, a side project devoted to providing free scalable data mining algorithms.

Prior to this, Owen created Taste in 2005, an open source project that contains implementations for basic recommender systems. This then merged into Apache Mahout three years later. Myrrix takes the Recommender API from Mahout and integrates it into distributed implementations.

Although some of Myrrix’s IP will transfer across to Cloudera, Owen doesn’t disclose just how the technology will be used. He added that there were “no new products to announce” with his time being spent on “figuring out how to incorporate the technology into CDH in just the right way.”

Though not a new area of expertise, there’s undeniably a renewed interest in machine learning, with a flurry of startups spawning in recent months to tap into the gold mine. Owen believes this reignition is down to the growth of Hadoop and cheap hardware and data storage.

“With cheap disks and CPUs, and mature open-source databases and computation frameworks, startups and even individuals can afford to run terribly complex computations over terabytes,” he explained, before adding that machine learning isn’t just conducted by the big companies alone anymore, but the data-savvy ones.

As customers look to explore more data-intensive operations, Cloudera recognises the importance of adding more strings to the proverbial bow, other than offering a finely-tuned Hadoop distribution. Launching interactive SQL query engine Impala last October demonstrated their intentions to bolster the platform, so it will be interesting to see how Myrrix fits into the wider picture.

Chris Mayer

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