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Microsoft Going All In with Hadoop and Hortonworks

Big Data is the future, Hadoop is the tool and Hortonworks is the partner to help Microsoft help businesses navigate the coming sea change in the way they operate. That's the takeaway I got from Microsoft exec Quentin Clark in his keynote address at the recent Hadoop Summit North America held in San Jose, Calif.

Clark, corporate vice president, Microsoft Data Platform, told the audience he took a break from his vacation to address the early adopters of a transformation that will completely change the industry in the next couple of decades.

"We believe Hadoop is the cornerstone of a sea change coming to all businesses in terms of how they are able to embrace information to effect change for how they run their day-to-day business," Clark said.

He likened this change to the way line-of-business applications changed the way all organizations work, from government to large businesses to small businesses. "We believe Hadoop is at the very root, the very cornerstone, of a similar kind of impacting change, but it's about all this new value, if you will, of information--information from systems and data that people already have that they aren't processing well today, embracing signals from partners, from customers, even from competitors in the industry, and analyzing that information differently. We believe that over the next couple of decades we'll see a complete transformation in how businesses think about their information, think about their businesses."

This transformation will be similar to the way the world was changed by advances in the telecommunications and travel industries, going from switchboard-assisted phone calls to ubiquitous cell phone coverage and from steamships and wagons to jet airliners, Clark said. He predicted that one day there will be 1 billion users of Big Data, and that will signal the completion of the transformation.

Microsoft feels a responsibility to help customers embrace Hadoop because it has become the Big Data standard, Clark said, noting that the company has logged some 6,000 engineering hours over the last year in its partnership with Hadoop vendor Hortonworks, a cosponsor of the summit. "It is a bit different for us," Clark admitted, to work on such an open source project in view of its strong brands in the data platform space, such as SQL Server and Excel. But he said the move made sense for Microsoft and Hortonworks was the best partner. "We're putting our shoulder now firmly behind their distribution on Windows," he said. "The Hortonworks Data Platform for Windows is what we're standing behind for our customers."

Of course, the cloud is a major part of Microsoft's vision of the future, and Clark said the Windows Azure HDInsight Hadoop service is one of the fastest-growing roles in the Azure arena.

After some demonstrations of technologies such as GeoFlow and Data Explorer, Clark emphasized that Microsoft was addressing the conference attendees as part of its effort with Hortonworks to get Hadoop out to the masses--and eventually to 1 billion users. "You all are the early adopters," Clark said. "You're the ones that see this coming. You're the ones on the leading edge of this, and every phenomenon we've had that's impacted businesses in this deep a way has always come with folks like yourselves that have that clarity early on to know what's coming."

Do you know what's coming? Clue us in by commenting here or dropping me an e-mail.

Posted by David Ramel on 07/11/2013

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