Go to a big data tech conference, approach any ten people and ask them to name the technology that’s driving the industry. Most of them will say Hadoop.

Ask them to name the vendors who are driving Hadoop’s development, adoption and growth and they’ll say Cloudera, Hortonworks, MapR and they might even throw Pivotal, Intel, Microsoft HDInsight or WANdisco onto the list

Next, ask them which technology vendors are reeling in the bucks while riding the big data wave and they’ll probably name a few of the aforementioned providers. And get this: if they do that, they’ll be wrong.

We have Some Thoughts & Figures

Last week analysts at Wikibon released a report on Big Data Revenues, and it’s the big guys who own the market and are making the money. Their survey, which looked at 70 vendors, reveals the following interesting insights:

IBM leads the field in big data revenues. And while the report breaks big data revenues down by hardware, software and services, even after you subtract IBM’s big data related hardware revenues from its big data revenue total, it still beats everyone in the field. 

HP’s big data revenues rank it as second. Subtract its big data hardware revenues from its big data total, and only SAP and IBM sell more big data related software and services.

As we go down Wikibon’s list, Dell ranks No. 3 on the list, but it sells only hardware (maybe they should buy a company that provides BD software and services -- a renaissance of sorts, no?) followed by SAP, Teradata, Oracle, SAS Institute and so on ...

It’s worth noting that EMC spinoff, Pivotal, is No. 12, Microsoft is No. 15, Amazon is No. 16, Cloudera ranks at No. 38, Hortonworks No. 41 and MapR is No. 48.

Who’s Reeling in the Dough?

big data

Look at Wikibon’s chart, at left. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) Who’s cashing out on being a big data provider?

Learning Opportunities

If you ask me, it’s the mega vendors whose reps are constantly wining, dining and popping into the offices of C-level executives. It’s the big consulting companies who carry similar access and clout (Accenture ranks No. 9 in big data revenue, PWC No. 10, Deloitte No. 11, CSC No. 18, Mu Sigma No. 25. TCS No. 26, Booz Allen Hamilton No. 29), and the big data services and/or security providers like Amazon, Splunk and Palantir.

Can Open Source Hadoop Providers Win the Bulk of Revenues?

Can you be a “born in/for the world of big data” provider and rank high on the list?

The innovators will, no doubt, say yes (otherwise they best be looking for new jobs), but as they work to build their enterprise relationships, established enterprise providers like IBM, HP, EMC and Microsoft are scurrying to beef-up their own big data plays (IBM, for example, has  InfoSphere BigInsights, its own Hadoop distro,; Microsoft has HDInsight (it also has an HDP play); Amazon has EMR (Elastic Map Reduce), Intel has its own distribution, Pivotal had PivotalHD. And, at least for now, the big guys seem to be winning the mother-load of the business.

Innovators Expertise vs. Enterprise Connections

Neither Cloudera nor Hortonworks are sitting on their Hadoop-contributor laurels relying on the idea that customers come to them solely because they have the greatest expertise. Cloudera is positioning itself as an enterprise data hub, a vision that reaches far beyond providing a Big Data platform and related services. Hortonworks, for its part, is partnering with every provider it can (e.g. Teradata, Microsoft, RackSpace), it wants HDP to be Hadoop distro within every enterprise. MapR seems to have its sights set on being “bullet-proof” Hadoop.

There’s time and opportunity to watch these different strategies play out because, as of this writing, Gartner claims that less than 10 percent of enterprises are leveraging big data and/or Hadoop. And while most early adopters are companies that are risk-takers or technology-driven to the nth degree (Netflix, Spotify, Eventbrite), those that follow will likely be less risk tolerant, have addresses on Main Street, and more reliant on trusted advisors from outside the enterprise.

And on this last point, we urge enterprise decision makers to beware, consider the resume of the person giving the advice rather than the brand on his/her business card. I say this because I have interviewed hundreds of so-called “big data experts” who know less about big data than I do. Trust me, you don’t want to pay top-dollar, or risk your project, on someone whose expertise was won while studying and passing a certification exam, and that’s the case with many of the advice-givers and implementation experts out there.

That being said, do you have any predictions on what Wikibon’s chart will look like at this time next year?