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Execs Explain IBM Hortonworks Partnership on theCUBE

The IBM Hortonworks Partnership has caught my attention this year. Rob Thomas and Rob Bearden are two execs I’ve know for years. They were both early leaders in the Hadoop and big data movement and have helped shape the direction of the industry as a whole. I have great respect for both execs and when they talk, I listen.

Having missed Bearden in Munich this April at the Hortonworks DataWorks Summit, I did catch Rob Thomas at the IBM “Fast Track your Data” event — ironically also in Munich — this past June. I plan to interview Rob Thomas again in NYC next month at the IBM “Data Science for All” event which you can watch live on our digital event platform.

Why the Marriage Makes Sense

IBM and Hortonworks have become much friendlier in 2017. IBM’s multi-billion dollar analytics business is now under the direction of Thomas who is the new GM of the division. Under his management, IBM has pushed its portfolio further upstream to tackle problems beyond hardening and maturing Hadoop infrastructure and into helping customers adopt more advanced data science and machine learning capabilities. Furthermore, IBM indicated earlier this year that it will sunset its own distro and instead adopt the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) for its Hadoop distribution. In turn, Hortonworks will resell IBM’s Data Science Experience and work with IBM to create new solution bundles for big data analytics.

This announcement is a win-win for the two companies. IBM can now streamline its big data development and re-direct resources “up the stack,” allowing Hortonworks to do the heavy lifting in the open source ecosystem. Meanwhile, Hortonworks gets access to IBM’s massive distribution channel for its software and a big IBM imprimatur stamp on its business. IBM is rationalizing its sprawling and complex analytics portfolio and Hortonworks gets an efficient sales channel in its pursuit of profits

The Setup

According to Hortonworks CEO Rob Bearden, “The goal (of the IBM Hortonworks partnership) is to continue to make it simple and easy for the customer to get to the cloud, bring those machine learning and data science models to the data, and make it easy for the consumption of the new next generation of applications, and continue to make our customer successful and drive value, but to do it through transparently enabling the technology platforms together, and I think we’ve acknowledged the things that IBM is extraordinarily good at, the things that Hortonworks is good at, and bring those two together with virtually no overlap.” 

Thomas added, “it’s what clients want. Since we announced this, the results and the response has been fantastic, and I think it’s for one simple reason. So, Hortonworks’ mission, we all know, is open source, and delivering in the community. They do a fantastic job of that. We also know that sometimes, clients need a little bit more, and so, when you bring those two things together, that’s what clients want. That’s very different than what other people in the industry do that say, ‘We’re going to create a proprietary wrapper around your Hadoop environment and lock your data in.’ That’s the opposite of what we’re doing. We’re saying we’re giving you full freedom of open source, but we’re enabling you to augment that with machine learning, data science capabilities. This is what clients want. That’s why the partnership’s working. I think that’s why we’ve gotten the response that we have. 

Who do you think Rob Thomas is referring to when he talks about a “proprietary wrapper?” Cloudera? Amazon? Microsoft?

Here’s a curated playlist of the full interview from these seasoned vets. I’d love to hear what you think.

Hit me up on Twitter with your thoughts: @dvellante


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