Databricks debuts free community edition of cloud-based platform

Databricks, a company founded by the creators of the Apache Spark cluster computing framework, announced the beta release of Databricks Community Edition at Spark Summit East in New York City today.

Databricks Community Edition is a free version of the company's cloud-based big data platform, designed to provide users with access to a micro-cluster and a cluster manager and notebook environment. Databricks says the version is idea for developers, data scientists, data engineers and other IT pros who want to learn Spark.

The Databricks Community Edition includes a portfolio of Spark training resources, including the award-winning Massive Open Online Course, "Introduction to Big Data with Apache Spark." Databricks says it will continue to develop Spark tutorials and training materials that will be made directly accessible as part of Community Edition. The Community Edition will also allow users to seamlessly transition prototypes to production applications on the full Databricks platform.

"As developers at heart, we find value in empowering professionals to tackle big data problems, and as a result, we are committed to the development of the Spark engine and the healthy growth of the community," Ion Stoica, executive chairman at Databricks, said in a statement today. "We're happy to contribute back to the community by releasing Community Edition of Databricks for free and we're excited to see how users experiment with the platform."

Ben Horowitz, co-founder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, praised the release in a statement today, noting that it democratizes access to learning about Spark and advanced analytics.

"Before the release of Community Edition, you had to either build your own cluster or pay thousands of dollars per month to learn how to do data science and advanced analytics such as machine learning," he said. "By combining Databricks' new offering with their highly popular Spark MOOCs, more people can now develop an expertise in data science — which has become one of the most valuable skill sets in technology — for free."

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