Channel technologies

MapR Streams: Will Big Data Partners Dive In?

Executives from MapR Technologies keep telling me they're serious about channel partner engagement. Frankly, I'm starting to drink the Kool Aid -- especially as MapR Streams nears delivery for big data and Hadoop partners.

Jack Norris
Jack Norris

"This is the biggest announcement to hit the big data market since Hadoop," asserts MapR Chief Marketing Officer Jack Norris. Admittedly, Norris is a marketing guy. Making big, bold statements is part of his job description.

But here's the twist: Norris and I have spoken or met about six times in the past six to eight months. During each conversation, Norris expressed some sort of MapR market optimism -- but in a controlled way. That understated tone disappeared during our two most recent calls, at which time Norris pitched me on Streams's value. (Side note: Some of the recorded conversations will debut as a ChannelE2E podcast soon.)

What Is MapR Streams?

MapR Streams is a "converged data platform" that allows channel partners and customers to integrate file, database, stream processing, and analytics to "accelerate data-driven applications and address emerging IoT needs. "

Admittedly, that previous sentence is filled with a lot of technical jargon. But think of it this way: In the traditional big data world -- before Streams debuted -- MapR asserts that big data customers were suffering from data silos. Or as Director of Product Management Will Ochandarena put it:

"Without a converged platform, companies are forced to deploy these types of applications on at least three data silos–a messaging cluster, a Hadoop cluster, and a NoSQL database cluster. Silos mean independent clusters that need to be provisioned, managed, and secured using different tools and methods, which means more servers and more overhead. Worse, silos require data to constantly be moved, introducing delays, duplication, and inconsistency between systems."

Fast forward to the world of MapR Streams, and customers can avoid data duplication because "data is available not only to stream-oriented tools, but also batch-oriented tools like MapReduce and Hive."

Really Understanding MapR Streams

Okay, that helps me to understand Streams a bit more. But what about some real-world application examples? MapR's Norris, during two recent ChannelE2E briefings, offered up multiple example applications.

For instance, he asserted, Streams technology can juggle numerous types of data -- information from a home thermostat, a status update from a utility, and a weather forecast -- essentially in real time. The end-customer or channel partner, in turn, can leverage real-time analytics -- rather than waiting on batch-type processing that can take hours, days or more.

Among the additional use-cases MapR shared:

  • Advertisers providing relevant real-time offers;
  • healthcare providers improving personalized treatment;
  • retailers optimizing inventory; and
  • telecom carriers dynamically adjusting mobile service areas.

Basically, the stream sounds like a real-time learning system -- allowing customers to change course based on the latest analysis that hits their dashboards.

Rival Reality Check

In some ways, MapR Streams sounds like technology from Hadoop rivals like Hortonworks and Cloudera. After all, Hortonworks promotes Apache Storm to process real-time data in Hadoop. And Cloudera since October 2014 has claimed it "leads the way in real-time streaming."

But Norris insists MapR's approach is different and far more effective. “This convergence is a big difference from what is available with other systems,” said Norris in a prepared statement about rivals. (We'll offer Cloudera and Hortonworks equal time in the days ahead.)

Channel Partners: Now or Later?

When I first heard about MapR Streams, I wondered if or when it would represent an ideal channel partner opportunity. In some ways, I figured traditional channel partners would be overwhelmed by all the various underlying technologies.

But Norris insisted Streams is a near-term opportunity for partners. "Regardless of where you start , the customer needs will pull you into production real-time use cases," he says. "This is not exclusive to large enterprises. It's not exclusive smaller, nimble startups. It's for everyone that's dealing in data-driven decisions."

Check the MapR website, and you'll notice a growing ecosystem of partners -- including a partner locator system. The MapR channel push apparently has accelerated since Matt Mills arrived as president in October.

Next up: An apparent vertical market push. In fact, MapR is seeking a VP of Federal Sales to drive its government engagements, which will include channel partners.

MapR Streams: Announced... But

Oh, and one important point. MapR Streams is announced. And the company sounds very bullish. But the technology won't officially ship until early 2016. We'll continue to check in with Norris to measure his enthusiasm as launch day approaches.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.