Big data mergers: the elephant has left the room

They were the poster children of the big data boom. But six months after HortonWorks and Cloudera announced their merger, can big data mature after its big names merge?

In 2014, at the peak of the big data boom, 3,200 people attended a San Jose summit dedicated to the technology at its centre: Hadoop. Embodied by an ever-cheerful yellow elephant, Hadoop was the principal focus of its two poster child companies, HortonWorks and Cloudera. But in 2018, the conference dropped reference to Hadoop all together and six months ago, HortonWorks and Cloudera merged and did the same.

"We don't reference Hadoop at all when we talk about our capability," says Stephen Line, VP of EMEA for Cloudera.

While some observers have seen the merger, and the shift in emphasis away from Hadoop, as a result of businesses struggling to achieve value from big data-style technology, others see these events as signs of maturity in the market.

Complementary features

Line says the merger was justified because of a certain commonality in the two code-bases, and complementary features built around Hadoop. While Hortonworks has emphasised data infrastructure, with its DataPlane Service, Cloudera has been building machine learning and artificial intelligence features to improve data scientists' productivity.

"Since the merger was announced we have signed up 145 new enterprise customers, suggesting they understand the reasons behind it," he says.

Instead of focusing exclusively on Hadoop technologies, Cloudera, wants to address all kinds of data problems businesses face. It includes not just the varied, unstructured data Hadoop specialised in storing for batch processing, but also machine learning, artificial intelligence and real-time analytics, as well enterprise data warehousing for business reporting and analytics. As such, it positions itself as an enterprise cloud data platform.

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