What Open Source Hadoop Coming to Windows Means to IT

Hadoop is nearly synonymous with the analysis of big data. The Hortonworks Data Platform on Windows is significant as it means that companies lacking Linux expertise will finally be able to benefit from the big data analysis platform, which has been out of the reach of Windows shops.

By Paul Rubens
Mon, May 13, 2013

CIO — Big data analysis has exploded onto the business stage over the last 12 months or so, and one of the most important Big Data analysis platforms is the open source Apache Hadoop project. It's generally run on Linux, and it's used by some big-name companies, including Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter.

Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) for Windows

Hortonworks Data Platform

What's about to change over the next few months is that Hadoop is coming to Windows in the form of Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) for Windows, a fully supported open source Hadoop distribution that runs on Windows Server. (Hortonworks, a California-based company, is a sponsor of and contributor to the Apache Hadoop project, and it already offers its Linux-based HDP distribution on a commercial basis.)

[Related: Hadoop Is Not Just for Linux Anymore]

This will open up Hadoop to a large number of organizations that have no in-house Linux skills. Shaun Connolly, vice president of Corporate Strategy at Hortonworks, explains the thinking behind moving HDP to Windows in this way: "Essentially it's a market-driven decision," he says. "Hadoop is built for the scaleout commodity hardware market, and the commodity hardware market is 70% Windows by install base and expertise."

Employees in Windows-only companies will be able to make use of Hadoop easily because Excel can be used as a business intelligence tool to view the results of Hadoop Big Data analysis (whether Hadoop is running on Windows or Linux). "Ideally we want Microsoft users to be oblivious to the fact that everything is coming from Hadoop," says Connolly. "If end users can consume data without any learning curve, thanks to tools like Excel, then they get more value."

[Related: Microsoft Brings Big Data to Windows]

Windows shops will also be able to benefit from Hadoop on Windows because IT staff with Windows skills will be able to write Hadoop applications using Microsoft's VisualStudio and .Net framework, without the need for any Linux expertise. (As an aside, both Hortonworks' and Microsoft's Windows offerings are 100% Apache Hadoop -- there have been no tweaks to the code--so any Linux Hadoop app could easily be ported to Windows, Connolly says.)

But it turns out that HDP for Windows is not the only way that Hadoop is coming to Windows. Microsoft has been working behind the scenes with Hortonworks since late 2011, and the Redmond giant is about to release its own distribution of Hadoop which it calls HDInsight. This will be available as a service running in the company's Azure cloud, or as a product that's intended to be used as the basis of an on-premise private cloud Hadoop installation.

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