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Is Hadoop a Dirty Word?

MapR, one of the top three Hadoop providers, is trying to reframe the big data conversation without using Hadoop at the beginning of each sentence. The move comes just as rival Hortonworks ramps up for a major company announcement on March 1. Although the Hadoop market continues to enjoy very strong growth, the term “Hadoop” continues to face some unwanted turbulence.

First, the big picture. Hadoop remains a popular open source platform for building, running and managing big data applications. The market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58 percent — reaching $16 billion by 2020, according to Market Research Media. With that growth in mind, Hadoop-oriented channel partner programs are starting to take hold.

Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR are considered the three leading providers of Hadoop, with IBM and Pivotal also playing key competitive roles in the market.

Just How Healthy Is Hadoop?

But here’s where things get interesting: A Gartner forecast in 2015 suggested the Hadoop market wasn’t growing as quickly as originally thought. The chatter stirred a firestorm of media coverage, and vendors worked hard to reinforce their strong growth rates.

At the same time, Spark — another open source big data technology — has stolen some of Hadoop’s thunder. IBM has openly stated that the Spark opportunity is much larger than that of Hadoop.  Instead of competing head-on, the major Hadoop players insist that Spark’s technology is complementary.

More recently, Hortonworks upset investors by seeking to raise more money — a potential sign that the company’s business model wasn’t built for near-term profitability.

Time for a Change

Amid that market backdrop, some Hadoop players have reframed their messaging. For a case in point, check out the opening line to MapR press releases:

  • Early to mid 2015: “MapR, provider of the top-ranked distribution for Apache Hadoop…”
  • February 2016: “MapR, provider of the only converged data platform for big data technology…”

MapR, which basically doubled its bookings last year, certainly isn’t abandoning Hadoop. But frankly, the company is tired of being lumped together with rivals like Cloudera and Hortonworks. That’s why MapR has made key hires to reframe the company’s branding and messaging.

I suspect Hortonworks may be feeling similarly. The company is preparing to make a major announcement on March 1. It’s framed as a “future of data” discussion. Notice, it’s not a “future of Hadoop” announcement. And I wonder just how much Hortonworks will mention Hadoop during the March 1 event.

Still Going Strong

Despite all the branding and marketing tweaks, the Hadoop market certainly remains strong. MapR bookings essentially doubled in 2015. And Hortonworks’ Q4 2015 revenues — up 148 percent vs. Q4 2014 — easily beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden proudly mentioned the company’s Hadoop distribution throughout the earnings release and the earnings call. But I wonder if that approach will continue when the March 1 business announcement arrives.

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