Hortonworks, Microsoft Sign Co-Development Deal for Hadoop

It is an unusual strategic relationship to accelerate the delivery of a Hadoop-based distribution to run on Windows Server and Azure platforms.

Hortonworks, the Apache Hadoop-based data analytics provider that was spun out from Yahoo last July, did on Oct. 12 what just about any open-source company would have found impossible only a couple of years ago: It announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft.

The announcement was made at the PASS Summit in Seattle.

You read that correctly. Three-month-old Hortonworks now has a development relationship with Microsoft to "accelerate and extend" new Apache Hadoop-based distributions to run on Windows Server and in the Azure cloud environment.

Hortonworks CEO Eric Baldeschwieler told eWEEK that Microsoft engineers want to "contribute to the enhancement of Apache Hadoop. And by 'contribute,' they mean to contribute back to the Apache Foundation, so that the work they're doing is going to end up in open source.

"We're helping Microsoft make sure that in co-designing some of this work that we not only achieve their goal that Windows is a great platform for Hadoop, but also that the work we do generally enhances Hadoop," Baldeschwieler said.

Not Your Everyday Open-Source News Item

Hortonworks will add its combination of proprietary and open-source software to Microsoft's data platform with SQL Server 2012 and other investments for managing big data.

This is news that would make a software developer with any kind of history in writing or testing open-source software drop his or her jaw in disbelief.

What's unusual here is that Microsoft, being a publicly owned company and profit-driven since 1986 and having to answer to its shareholders, has never been one to share its innovations with too many outside people or organizations-especially the widespread, share-all and very democratic open-source community. So, suffice to say that Microsoft and the open-source community have had a dicey relationship for years.

In case you're not familiar with the 12-year-old Apache Software Foundation, it is an international nonprofit organization that innovates and maintains the open source-based Apache Web Server-now the most utilized such server in the world-along with about 90-plus other open-source projects.

Hadoop, the large-batch data analytics processing engine that is turning heads in many sectors of the IT business (analytics, big data processing software, storage, processing hardware and UI design, among others), is one of the foundation's hottest projects at the moment.

Baldeschwieler told eWEEK that "Microsoft is not a monolithic organization. The people we're working with have really impressed me. They've done their homework. They came to us with working code and a good understanding of what the Apache community was.

"When I first started having high-level conversations with some of their senior execs, my first impression was: 'Are you serious?' I also told them right away that if they wanted to do this in the right way, then I was very interested. Our mission is to grow the community, and we see this as being very helpful for that."

Providing Support, Training

Hortonworks will provide Microsoft with Hadoop support and training that will help accelerate the delivery of Microsoft's Hadoop-based distribution for Windows Server and Windows Azure, including input around feature road map and designs, feedback on code reviews, and regression and acceptance testing.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ted Kummert told the PASS audience, "Microsoft is committed to helping customers manage any data, any size, anywhere with the SQL Server data platform, Windows Server and Windows Azure.

"Hortonworks has a rich history in leading the design and development of Apache Hadoop. Their experience and expertise in this space help us accelerate our delivery of our Hadoop-based distribution on Windows Server and Windows Azure while maintaining compatibility and interoperability with the broader ecosystem," Kummert said.

No specific timetable for the Windows Hadoop distribution was announced, but it is possible that it will be ready for prime time by early next year.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...