Has Hadoop Crossed The Chasm? Thoughts About Strata 2014

Well, it’s been a little over a week since the Strata conference so I thought I should give some perspective on what I learned.  I think it was summed up at my first meeting, on the first morning of the conference. The meeting was with a financial services company who has significance experience with Hadoop. The first words out of their mouths were, “Hadoop is hard.” 

Later in the conference, after a Western Union representative spoke about their Hadoop deployment, they were mobbed by end user questions and comments. The audience was thrilled to hear about an actual operational deployment: Not just a sandbox deployment, but an actual operational Hadoop deployment from a company that is over 160 years old.

The market is crossing the chasm from early adopters who love to hand code (and the macho culture of proving they can do the hard stuff) to more mainstream companies that want to use technology to solve real problems. These mainstream companies aren’t afraid to admit that it is still hard. For the early adopters, nothing is ever hard. They love hard. But the mainstream market doesn’t view it that way.  They don’t want to mess around in the bowels of enabling technology.  They want to use the technology to solve real problems.  The comment from the financial services company represents the perspective of the vast majority of organizations. It is a sign Hadoop is hitting the mainstream market.

More proof we have moved to a new phase?  Cloudera announced they were going from shipping six versions a year down to just three.  I have been saying for awhile that we will know that Hadoop is real when the distribution vendors stop shipping every 2 months and go to a more typical enterprise software release schedule.  It isn’t that Hadoop engineering efforts have slowed down.  It is still evolving very rapidly.  It is just that real customers are telling the Hadoop suppliers that they won’t upgrade as fast because they have real business projects running and they can’t do it.  So for those of you who are disappointed by the “slow down,” don’t be.  To me, this is news that Hadoop is reaching critical mass.

Technology is closing the gap to allow organizations to use Hadoop as a platform without having to actually have an army of Hadoop experts.  That is what Informatica does for data parsing, data integration,  data quality and data lineage (recent product announcement).  In fact, the number one demo at the Informatica booth at Strata was the demonstration of “end to end” data lineage for data, going from the original source all the way to how it was loaded and then transformed within Hadoop.  This is purely an enterprise-class capability that becomes more interesting and important when you actually go into true production.

Informatica’s goal is to hide the complexity of Hadoop so companies can get on with the work of using the platform with the skills they already have in house.  And from what I saw from all of the start-up companies that were doing similar things for data exploration and analytics and all the talk around the need for governance, we are finally hitting the early majority of the market.  So, for those of you who still drop down to the underlying UNIX OS that powers a Mac, the rest of us will keep using the GUI.   To the extent that there are “fit for purpose” GUIs on top of Hadoop, the technology will get used by a much larger market.

So congratulations Hadoop, you have officially crossed the chasm!

P.S. See me on theCUBE talking about a similar topic at: youtu.be/oC0_5u_0h2Q