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MapR Hires Oracle Veteran for Big Data, Channel Push

MapR Technologies Inc., one of the best-known providers of Hadoop for big data projects, has hired Oracle Corp. veteran Matt Mills as president and COO. The move has timely implications for the big data, storage and IT channel markets. ChannelE2E spoke with MapR CEO John Schroeder, Chief Marketing Officer Jack Norris and Mills last evening ahead of today’s news. Here’s the update.

mapr scorecardFirst, the big picture. MapR competes with Cloudera and Hortonworks in the Hadoop market — where customers are adopting the grid-oriented storage platform for big data and analytics projects. For instance, American Express leverages MapR for a range of machine learning and predictive analytics applications.

Schroeder launched MapR about six years ago. The company is growing more than 100 percent annually and now has 340 employees worldwide. Today’s Hadoop market reminds Schroeder of the relational database market in the 1990s, when Oracle, Sybase, Informix and IBM squared off at the high-end of the market (Microsoft SQL Server emerged, at the time, as more of a departmental option).

Oracle, for the most part, won those relational database wars. With that history in mind, MapR has hired Mills — a savvy sales and channel veteran — for a modern day software battle vs. Hadoop rivals and other big data platforms. Mills spent over 20 years at Oracle. At the time of his 2014 departure, he was SVP/GM and a member of Oracle’s Executive Committee, leading an 8,000 person team and managing a multi-billion dollar business, MapR said in a prepared statement.

The Path to MapR

After leaving Oracle in mid-2014, Mills took some time off before exploring potential market opportunities starting around February or March of this year, he told ChannelE2E. “I wanted to join a company where I could come in, make an impact and be with a team I enjoyed being around.”

Mills and Schroeder started talking about 30 to 45 days ago. On the one hand, MapR already had “a great product, with a great business model with great talent” in place, says Schroeder. But on the other hand, the CEO says, a COO-level hire would help to fuel MapR’s growth while freeing up Schroeder to focus on outbound relationships — like investor relationships.

mapr-executivesMills, meanwhile, spent recent weeks taking a closer look at MapR to study up on the company’s people and technology. “I spent some time with John and really got under the hood with the product,” Mills says. “I was amazed by what they have put together.”

Mills’ First MapR Moves

Now that Mills is onboard, he expects to be “a sponge” for the next 60 days or so — working to understand “what we’re already doing well and then where I can add some elbow grease” to the machine.

MapR’s go-to-market strategy certainly includes channel partners, says Mills, who was known as a channel advocate at Oracle. “I think there’s a huge opportunity for partners,” says Mills. “It’s big and getting nothing but bigger.”

Indeed, the Hadoop market enjoys strong double-digit growth. Big IT consulting shops like Accenture and Capgemini are already in the market. Boutique consulting firms are moving in. And some MSPs now provide on-premises and cloud managed services for Hadoop clusters.

Moreover, CMO Jack Norris told ChannelE2E that more than 40,000 people have participated in MapR’s online training courses. No doubt, many of those emerging Hadoop experts represent channel partners.

Challenges and Opportunities

Some pundits have occasionally wondered if upstart technologies like Spark will compete with Hadoop. IBM, for one, is betting much of its big data strategy on Spark. But MapR and other Hadoop providers see Spark as a complementary technology.

In some circles, time to value with Hadoop also is a concern. While large enterprises can hire talent — or consultants — to stand up Hadoop storage clusters, smaller and midsize firms often don’t have the budget or expertise to do so. Still, cloud-based Hadoop options could increasingly appeal to smaller businesses.

Moreover, Schroeder says MapR delivers a good time to value to customers — especially when customers have a clear business use case for the technology.

Looking ahead, Schroeder expects MapR to greatly accelerate its international business. So far, 70 percent of MapR’s business is North America-based. Asia Pacific has also been a strong performer, but over the next 24 months he expects EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) to emerge as the company’s second-largest geography in terms of revenue generation.

Of course, MapR will face plenty of competition from Cloudera, Hortonworks and other big data-centric software and cloud companies. But Schroeder is quick to remind industry watchers that the winners and losers won’t be decided overnight. After all, he says, it’s only “the second or third inning of the big data game.”

Apply that analogy to the IT channel, and you could say that most partners are still evaluating if or how to grab a seat at the ballpark. If Mills has his way, those partners will increasingly step onto the field with MapR.

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