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Finding proprietary value in the open-source world

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June 8, 2016

In a side room of this year's Strata/Hadoop Industry Conference in London, Hadoop creator Doug Cutting spoke about finding proprietary value in the open-source world, and Cloudera's “not entirely commercial” opposition to the Open Data Platform.

To be sure, Cutting created Hadoop, which was named after his son's toy elephant.

While still working at Yahoo, he joined Cloudera which provides its own Cloudera Distribution including Apache Hadoop (CDH).

Despite his commitments both to the open-source technology and to the proprietary version offering company, Cutting has committed himself to an independence of opinion-- “It's something that I've always tried to maintain. I try to reflect all the interests in the open source community.”

“I'm by no means perfect at that,” he acknowledged. “I can't help but have some biases from my perspective, but I do my best not to be a pitch man, but rather to think about this broader community, and I think Cloudera recognises that's in Cloudera's best interest that we have a vibrant diverse community of vendors.”

Cutting has lived up to his name when commenting on certain projects around Hadoop, and none received more ire than the Open Data Platform initiative (ODPi), which he told us “is actually something which isn't part of the open source community.”

“It's now part of the Linux Foundation, which is also a consortium, a club of companies, that you pay to join. It's really not this completely community-owned thing like Apache, where the individual developers control the fate, and so I still don't understand what role it's attempting to fill.”

Cutting's criticisms are joined by those of fellow Cloudera chap Mike Olson, who said last year that “Cloudera’s partner ecosystem includes 1,447 companies (at the time). But we’re not hearing from them that they’re confused about building applications on core Hadoop.”

Cutting then added-- “I think we're in a period of tremendous innovation, and that innovation works by having lots of options out there and not having them reduced too much. We have vendors already reducing them and saying 'Here's the set of things that we want to push you towards' and we have Apache, which is sort of a free-for-all, and I'm not sure what value there is in something in-between.”

Naturally, there's also the ODP's interest in Ambari, an open source management platform which is also a direct competitor to Cloudera's proprietary offering in Cloudera Manager, which Cutting unsurprisingly says it's “considerably more advanced”.

“I don't think Ambari has a wide range of contributors, nor a wide range of users,” Cutting said. “I think it tends to predominantly be Hortonworks users.”

Overall, IT management systems are not “amenable to open source” said Cutting, as they are unlike storage systems and computing engines “where we see a lot of different folks sharing this common technology.”

Source: Doug Cutting.

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