Hadoop? Most U.S. Companies Haven't Started That Big Data Journey

Even as Hadoop deployments accelerate worldwide, the big data platform's overall market penetration across North America remains relatively low, according to new research from Unisphere Research commissioned by Dell. 

Hadoop is an open-source software platform for storing and processing big data across large clusters of commodity hardware. Although sales of Hadoop-based solutions are growing fast, market research suggests we're still early in the Hadoop technology adoption cycle.

Indeed, only about 20 percent of North American businesses are using or deployment Hadoop -- and 57 percent indicated that they have no plans to incorporate Hadoop technology within the next three years, Unisphere said.

Another key factoid: Nearly one-third of North American businesses are not yet actively managing unstructured data. In stark contrast, those businesses remain highly dependent on relational database management systems from Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, among others, Unisphere said.

Building the Wave

On-premises, integrated Hadoop hardware and software bundles from Cisco Systems and Avnet-IBM, among others, are reaching market now. Those and other bundles frequently leverage Hadoop distributions from Cloudera, Hortonworks or MapR.

Still, Hadoop clusters require time, expertise and Capex (capital expense) budget to acquire and deploy. That's why so many customers are taking a close look at Hadoop as a Service (i.e., Hadoop in the cloud) -- where sales will grow roughly 85 percent annual from 2014 to 2019, Research and Markets predicts.

The list of Hadoop-based cloud services seems to grow every month. But only a few companies have bet their entire business on big data and Hadoop offerings in the cloud. Chief among them is Qubole, which is backed by former Facebook data engineers who have been working with Hadoop since around 2007.

Qubole CEO Ashish Thusoo shared Hadoop and cloud market perspectives with me in our latest podcast (Episode 31). The key takeaway: A cloud approach to Hadoop will extend big data tools and technologies out to all types of customers -- pushing far beyond large enterprises that employ data scientists and build their own Hadoop clusters.

The Road Ahead

Thusoo's thesis sounds correct to me. But this journey is going to take some time. Don't forget: Hortonworks, one of the few publicly held Hadoop specialists, only generated about $12.7 million in revenues for its Q4 2014. Though sales grew 55 percent, top-line revenues suggest the Hadoop market remains highly fragmented.

Bottom line: Unisphere Research suggests Hadoop has only penetrated about 20 percent of North American corporations so far... But I remain extremely upbeat because:

  • Most companies that already run Hadoop will surely increase consumption.
  • Those that don't yet run Hadoop may choose to speed adoption by embracing the cloud approach, rather than waiting for budget approval for an on-premises deployment.

That said, I'll work hard not to hype the Hadoop market. And I trust you'll tell me when I sound more like a cheerleader than an observer.

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