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Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR Fight for Hadoop Supremacy

Who's going to win, Cloudera, Hortonworks or MapR? All three are battling for Hadoop supremacy in terms of prominent customers, funding and market share.

The latest blow was figuratively struck by Cloudera as Intel yesterday announced it was quitting on its own distribution and joining forces with the Hadoop pioneer.

On the prominent customer front, Hortonworks has been quick to trumpet its own customer successes, as when it announced last September that the popular music service Spotify was coming on board by choosing the Hortonworks Data Platform. What Hortonworks didn't say was that Spotify was switching from Cloudera. Well, kinda. There was that one empty blog post on the Hortonworks site that proclaimed, "Spotify Embraces Hortonworks, Dumps Cloudera," in an apparent reference to a news article headline. A month earlier, Hortonworks touted an alliance with Linux giant Red Hat. Meanwhile, MapR this month let everyone know it landed new customer Rocket Internet. OK, maybe all the new customers weren't that prominent.

On the funding front, things have been fast and furious lately. Just this week, Hortonworks announced a $100 million round of funding, countering Cloudera's announcement the week before of a $160 million round of its own, right about the same time MapR closed on a $30 million score.

In the market share battle, the three Hadoop vendors are vying for the biggest piece of what's expected by some to be nearly a $14 billion pie by 2017. Another report predicted the total Big Data market would be some $51 billion by then.

All three were named as "leaders" in a recent Forrester Wave report, which noted that "Hadoop solution vendors face a cutthroat market." And no one can be said to be winning the war yet, according to Forrester, which stated, "We saw lots of leaders, but none dominate." All three scored the same in "global presence and installed base." In a chart, they were all closely grouped together, with Hortonworks having an edge in strategy and MapR having an edge in the strength of each vendor's "current offering," where it led all comers overall. The report can be accessed by filling out a form on the MapR site. And although MapR led in the evaluation of products, Forrester said it lagged badly in market awareness.

Last fall, research firm IDC reported in a study titled "Trends in Enterprise Hadoop Deployments" that "the three leading suppliers -- Cloudera, MapR and Hortonworks -- dominate the enterprise Hadoop scene." IDC said Cloudera led in a survey asking respondents what Hadoop distribution they used. Cloudera was named by nearly 25 percent of respondents, followed by MapR at just more than 20 percent and Hortonworks at about 16 percent. The report can be accessed from the Red Hat site.

I found another statistic interesting. Last month, Hadoop contributor and software engineer Akira Ajisaka reported on "The Activities of the Apache Hadoop Community," wherein he detailed who was doing what in Hadoop code contributions. He studied project commit logs and its JIRA repository. In reporting on the number of lines of code changed in 2012 and 2013, Hortonworks was the clear leader, with more than twice the number of lines changed as the No. 2 contributor, Cloudera. MapR didn't make the list as an individual contributor, but the report did include an "others" category that totaled more than Cloudera's contribution.

So, by the looks of things, the war is heating up, and no one is sure about who will emerge on top -- or even if anyone will emerge as a clear leader. Forrester said as much in its report, offering only: "The Hadoop buying cycle is on the upswing, and the Hadoop vendors know it. Pure-play upstarts must capture market share quickly to make venture investors happy; stalwart enterprise software vendors must avoid being disintermediated; and cloud vendors must make their solutions cheaper."

It should be fun to watch things play out.

Posted by David Ramel on March 28, 2014