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It's Not Just the Money, Honey: HP and Hortonworks' $50M Marriage

2014-25-July-Just-Married.jpgHortonworks announced yesterday that it has won a $50 million investment from HP.

But it wasn’t billed that way by either company. Instead the press release read “HP and Hortonworks Deepen Relationship focused on Enterprise Hadoop.”

The reason it was framed that way is pretty simple: HP needs a powerful data engine for HAVEn, its “open” big data architecture that incorporates Hadoop, Autonomy, Vertica, Enterprise security and a number of apps that can be built on the platform. As part of the relationship, Vertica will soon be certified by Hortonworks as YARN-ready. YARN is a key component of Apache Hadoop 2.

Hortonworks, for its part, wants to spread and wed its flavor of completely Open Source Hadoop as widely and as deeply as possible, and being closely integrated into HP’s popular analytics stack, as well as some of its other offerings, is a good way to do that.

But that’s not all.

Sweetening the Deal

In order to remain relevant in computing’s third era, HP needs to be able to offer unparalleled Hadoop oriented products and services to its customers. For that to happen, HP has to either develop best in class expertise in-house (and HP doesn’t employ any Hadoop committers) or to partner closely with someone who can provide it.

And Hortonworks is an extremely strong choice for the latter. Not only does the company employ more Hadoop committers than any other vendor, but one of its co-founders, Arun Murthy, is sometimes referred to as the “father” of Apache Hadoop 2 which includes game-changing YARN.

What a partnership like this means to HP is access to Hortonworks engineers who will work side-by-side with HP engineers building products, and training on Hortonworks’ Enterprise Hadoop platform (HDP) which it will support for its customers. In such a model, Hortonworks promises to have its business partners’ backs should they encounter problems they can’t solve on their own.

Not only that, but Hortonworks also says that it won’t compete with its business partners for customers.

Happily Ever After Isn't Just for Fairy Tales

While all of this might seem like pretty, ideological talk, Hortonworks has already demonstrated that it walks the walk — it works this way with SAP, Teradata, Microsoft and even HP, though the latter relationship will now be strengthened.

There’s something other than money and a reinforced commitment that Hortonworks wins from HP as well: namely the guidance of its CTO, Martin Fink. Fink, who will become a member of Hortonworks’ board, also directs HP Labs, the company’s exploratory and advanced research group which is responsible for anticipating IT trends to address the complex issues that will face HP customers and society over the next decades. He may be invaluable in providing insight into the future. That’s not all: Fink is also a huge proponent of Open Source Linux which he brought into a proprietary HP years ago. That makes him well equipped to offer sage advice based not in theory but on lessons learned.

So while HP’s $50 million should go a long way in helping Hortonworks hire more salespeople and broaden its footprint, the HP Hortonworks relationship offers each company something more which could have just as much impact and be longer lasting.

Title image by Gerard Stolk (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC 2.0 license

 
 
 
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