Hadoop processes a profit

Op-Ed: ‘Big data’ becomes big money

News broke late last week that Cloudera, producers of one of the most popular commercial Hadoop distributions, had closed their latest round of funding with an extra $65 million in the coffers.

It’s the latest indication that any lingering doubts regarding the ‘big data’ phenomenon should be dispelled, as investors fight for a piece of the still-growing pie.

Cloudera’s growth has been astounding: having been founded in 2008, the company’s current worth is now pegged at “about $700 million” by All Things D, who were also told by CFO Jim Frankola that “revenue and number of customers [are] roughly doubling every year”. Whatever the exact numbers, it’s clear just from the customer base - which already includes the likes of eBay, Samsung and Disney - that the company has come far in just four short years.

While indicative of Cloudera’s own success, this investment equally speaks volumes about the burgeoning ‘big data’ ecosystem. Splunk, an older ‘business intelligence’ provider, was floated onto the stock market at $17 a share - making the nine-year-old company worth a whopping $1.57 billion. DataStax, meanwhile, who have branched out from Cassandra to integrating Hadoop and Solr into their enterprise product, profited handsomely with a $25m investment in early October.

Let’s not forget, however, this big money being generated by ‘big data’ is mostly thanks to the open source community and Doug Cutting’s yellow elephant. Jonathan Gray, who previously worked with HBase at Facebook and is now CTO of Continuuity, told JAXenter last week that “when we talk about ‘big data’, we’re basically just talking about Hadoop”.

Having been born within the fiery infrastructure pits of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo, underlying big data platforms have matured to the point where they are now being adopted by enterprises outside of the tech bubble, albeit in sanitised distributions. The parallel development and hyping of non-relational databases such as MongoDB and Cassandra has helped, too, making data capture and storage more feasible.

This hasn’t happened by accident. It’s the companies like Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR that have pushed ahead not only the open source efforts, but the commercial adoption and promotion of Hadoop and its related technologies. The huge amounts of money being invested in said companies, not to mention related startups like Continuuity, is proof that investors are confident the market is ripe for the picking.

Elliot Bentley

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