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Security Concerns Lead Big Data Companies to Acquisitions

Two of the biggest snap up security vendors within three weeks of each other.

Security continues to be a major issue for developers when it comes to working on Big Data projects, given the increased complexity. In addition, the constant flood of news about security breaches is sure to make those developers wary.

Given those factors, it's no surprise that rival Big Data companies Cloudera Inc. and Hortonworks Inc. continue to battle for Hadoop distribution supremacy, most recently concentrating on shoring up their respective security capabilities.

Less than three weeks after Hortonworks Inc. acquired security company XA Secure, Cloudera last week acquired Gazzang Inc., a 4-year-old security company headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Cloudera said Gazzang data encryption and key management technology will be added to its Cloudera Enterprise product. The move comes nearly a year after Cloudera launched the Sentry open source project, an authorization module for Hadoop that supports role-based and fine-grained authorization, along with multi-tenant administration.

The Gazzang zTrustee solution
[Click on image for larger view.] The Gazzang zTrustee Solution
(source: Cloudera Inc.)

Hortonworks, meanwhile, last month announced it absorbed XA Secure to provide a more comprehensive security approach as an alternative to the prevalent practice of using discrete, disjointed components for different security functionalities.

Hortonworks said this more-encompassing approach will improve central security policy administration for core security requirements, along with enforcement across different kinds of workloads such as batch, interactive SQL and real time. The company said the acquired technology will be used in a new HDP Security product that will be officially available later this month.

Hortonworks' new security approach
[Click on image for larger view.] The New Hortonworks Security Approach
(source: Hortonworks Inc.)

HDP Security, Hortonworks said, will include:

  • Simplified central administration of Hadoop security policies.
  • Granual access control enforcement across Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Hive and HBase.
  • Universal security and audit tracking.
  • Compliance conformance controls.

XA Secure was founded in January 2013 and in December announced it had joined the Hortonworks technology program. The bootstrapped start-up reportedly employed about 10 engineers.

Ironically, just a couple months ago, XA Secure announced it was certified on the Cloudera CDH5 platform.

Cloudera has been working on another security initiative, the Intel-sponsored Project Rhino, designed to provide framework support for encryption and key management; a common Hadoop authorization framework; token-based authentication with single sign-on; and more.

XA Secure itself commented on Project Rhino earlier this year. "It is good to see the community realizing the power of Hadoop, and also realizing the importance of security within the Hadoop stack," the company said. Now XA Secure is addressing that importance as part of Cloudera's arch rival.

However, both Cloudera and Hortonworks, whose enterprise products are based on the open source Apache Hadoop, said their actions will benefit the open source community.

"Hortonworks will immediately begin incorporating the XA Secure technology into the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) while also transitioning the solution to an open Apache community project," Hortonworks said.

Meanwhile, Cloudera said, "In addition to immediately providing a transparent data-at-rest encryption and key management solution to enterprise customers -- addressing one of the biggest gaps in Hadoop security -- Cloudera, Intel and Gazzang form a powerful team of Big Data security and silicon performance optimization expertise that will improve security in core Hadoop through the open source community."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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