Cloudera founder Mike Olson: ‘We’re moving from automating processes to automating decisions’
The growing momentum of big data in the cloud has been described as a threat to @Cloudera Inc., which is ironic given that the company’s original business plan was to sell big data as a cloud service. The market wasn’t ready in 2008, so Cloudera shifted to selling an integrated platform that combines various open-source projects with proprietary extensions. Of the three prominent startups to emerge from the @Hadoop ecosystem, the other two being @MapR Technologies Inc. and @Hortonworks Inc., Cloudera was the most prominent, in no small part because of the $740 million investment it received from @Intel Corp. in 2014. Its stock-market performance since going public last April has been underwhelming, but few would deny that it’s a market leader. Chief Strategy Officer Mike Olson, one of Cloudera’s four founders, joined SiliconANGLE recently for a telephone interview on where big data’s going next. Gartner has estimated that 85 percent of enterprise big data projects failed. Does that surprise you? I don’t understand who they’re talking to. We’re a high-growth company in the $300 million-plus forecast range and most of our business is still on-prem. People aren’t shutting down large football fields of Teradata [Corp.], but the opportunity was never to displace data warehouses. It was to capture more data than we could before and see what we could do if we had better tools to derive value. I think Gartner is comparing the wrong things. The growth rate of machine learning is zero if you compare it against traditional markets because there is no traditional market. But it has created value in huge new ways. It’s true that the biggest growth area has been in cloud databases like Cloudera Altus and Redshift on Amazon Web Services. We’ve believed since the early days that much of the action would be in cloud services, and that’s why we named the company Cloudera. We still believe that, but I think there’s enormous potential and success in on-prem deployments. Three years ago, Cloudera defined its mission around a unified platform built on Hadoop, the pioneering framework for managing big data. Today, you don’t even mention Hadoop in your description. What changed? We talked about Hadoop in the early days because people needed to know what the platform was and what we had. Today it’s a much richer environment. We’re seeing native machine learning using Spark integrated with AWS storage buckets. There’s no Hadoop in there. This platform is doing more than just what Hadoop did. Our original platform was Hadoop and MapReduce. Today, we ship 26 different open-source projects, 18 of which were created by Clouderans. Hadoop is always going to be part of the foundation of the company — and we’re proud that we spotted it so early — but it’s only a small part of what we do today.