Microsoft Brings Big Data to Windows

Microsoft, with the help of partner Hortonworks, brings Hadoop to Windows and stakes its claim as a vendor of big data technologies with new cloud-based and on-premises offerings.

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Wed, October 24, 2012
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"The shortage of skills continues to be a major impediment to adoption," Adrian says. "Microsoft's entry does not relieve the shortage of experienced Hadoop staff, but it does amplify their ability to deliver their solutions to a broad audience when their key foundation work has been done."

"It opens the world of data outside traditional data stores to commonly used business tools in a way that will accelerate adoption by today's business analysts—but not without the infrastructure creation that will still depend on the skills of technical professionals using Hadoop technologies," he adds.

Seamlessly Move Big Data Between Cloud and On-Premise

One immediate benefit, he notes, is the ability to rapidly prototype in the cloud and then seamlessly bring the solution on-premise using the common platform offered by Windows Azure HDInsight Service and Microsoft HDInsight Server for Windows.

"Early experimentation and testing in the cloud eliminates early capital expenditures that can be a barrier to adoption," Adrian says. "For example, Amazon's AWS has been used for millions of Elastic MapReduce jobs, but those experiments stayed in the cloud. The connection of cloud to on-premise systems offers the promise of more rapid time to value—and Microsoft has established a lead in connecting to its widely used stack."

[Related: The Big Promise of Big Data]

Microsoft's Leland notes the capabilities provided by the two flavors of HDInsight also allow customers to run most of their big data analytics on-premise but cloudburst to Azure when they need the additional compute.

"Ultimately it's an ideal scenario," he says. "You can manage your infrastructure cost, but really have unlimited scale when you need it. You can spin up a cluster in less than 10 minutes [in Azure]. Having that kind of additional capacity, that quickly, on demand, that simply, is certainly going to change the game."

Microsoft Committed to Open Source

For its part, Hortonworks is working closely with Microsoft on its big data initiatives.

"This is a joint engineering effort," explains John Kreisa, vice president of marketing for Hortonworks. "This is an engineering relationship in which our engineers have been working with Microsoft engineers in porting Hadoop, which is traditional Linux infrastructure, over to Windows."

"Hortonworks and Microsoft share a very common and aligned view on the Hadoop technology, the strategy and the evolution of this market," Leland adds. "Hortonworks is the only provider of Hadoop that is committed to delivering a 100 percent open source distribution of Apache Hadoop—no proprietary code—and that, as we came out earlier in the process, was an absolute stated direction for Microsoft. We have a commitment on our part to contribute back all the code that we build to the open source community. Given that alignment and approach, Hortonworks was really the natural partner for us."

For now, both flavors of HDInsight are in preview and free to use. Leland says Microsoft is encouraging customers to use the previews and help it round out the offering before its commercial launch.

Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Thor at tolavsrud@cio.com

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