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Anyone that Hortonworks gets into bed with, Cloudera snuggles up to next.

This, of course, is not a proven theorem. But it sure seems to be the case lately.

Earlier this month Hadoop enterprise data hub provider Cloudera announced a deeper integration with long time Hortonworks partner Teradata. Hortonworks’ 100 percent open source Hadoop distribution (HDP) powers many of Teradata’s big data offerings, including the Teradata Appliance for Hadoop.

Yesterday, at a Microsoft press event, Mike Olson, Cloudera’s Chief Strategy Officer, shared the stage with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice president Scott Guthrie to announce his company’s intention to become Microsoft Azure Certified.

More Choices or More Confusion?

It’s a pretty high profile setting for this kind of an announcement.

Especially when you consider that last week Hortonworks announced its actual Microsoft Azure certification. The two companies have had a close partnership for years. HDP powers Microsoft’s on premise Hadoop offering, HDP for Windows, as well as HDInsight, Microsoft’s Hadoop service in the Cloud.

While in the old world of proprietary, client server computing, doing business this way may have looked disloyal, somewhat like fickle “free love” in a commune, at best — or just plain, cold hearted cheating — in the era of the more open third platform having many, well-regarded partners can translate to providing more choices for your customers.

That’s a good thing, unless it becomes confusing.

That could be what happened during the press conference yesterday afternoon when an inquiring reporter asked Microsoft what the Cloudera announcement meant to his company’s relationship with Hortonworks.

We have a “great relationship with Hortonworks,” said Guthrie.

Given that Microsoft’s own Hadoop solutions are HDP-based, we’d certainly hope so.

Do Pictures Speak Louder Than Words?

That being said, a picture can sometimes be worth a 1000 words, and Olson’s on-stage appearance with Nadella and Guthrie might, to some, translate to a stronger statement than may have been intended.

The reason Olson was given the spotlight on Microsoft’s stage, say some of our sources, was to illuminate the fact that Microsoft is welcoming vendors to bring solutions to its Azure marketplace and that Cloudera is a company that plans to do exactly that.

On the other hand, we’ve been handed quotes from Microsoft’s PR team that say things like:

While Microsoft has a longstanding partnership with Hortonworks, Microsoft is continuously evaluating its customer needs and requirements and adjusting our strategy as required. This partnership with Cloudera brings a leading distributor of Apache Hadoop onto the Azure platform that will co-exist with our existing offerings with Hortonworks.”

Read into that what you want.

Sharing the Love

And how is Hortonworks feeling about all of this? Although company representatives declined to make a specific comment, they didn’t seem at all upset as far as we can tell.

In fact when we had asked them how they felt about the Cloudera/Teradata news a few weeks ago, Jim Walker, director of product marketing at Hortonworks, said “Isn’t it great,” then went on about how wonderful it was that Hadoop was claiming its place in the enterprise.

In other words, a rising tide raises all boats.

And that could be all that Microsoft means when in another PR released comment it says, “The purpose of this partnership with Cloudera is to continue to accelerate the adoption of Hadoop in the enterprise while diversifying the platforms that Hadoop will run on.”

While we certainly can’t speak for Guthrie or Nadella, we’d guess that Microsoft, like its enterprise customers who are running a variety of Hadoop distros, has decided to hedge its bets and is now playing the field.