In this special guest feature, Josh Rogers of Syncsort discusses what’s next for Hadoop: how companies can – and should – move beyond its storage capabilities, using more computing nodes to increase their processing power, and the growth of industry-focused applications built on the framework. Josh Rogers is President of Syncsort, leading global business operations including sales, marketing, support and engineering. Before assuming his current position, he served as SVP, Data Integration Business, VP of Worldwide Field Sales, VP of Field Sales for the Americas, and Director of Sales for Syncsort’s Data Management solutions in North America. Josh holds a BA in Economics from Davidson College and an MBA in Business Administration and Management from Harvard Business School.
When it comes to Big Data, Hadoop has taken center-stage. However, Gartner’s recent 2015 Hadoop Adoption Study painted the open source platform’s future as looking bleak, stating that “demand for Hadoop looks fairly anemic over at least the next 24 months.”
With the majority of headlines around Gartner’s report zeroing in on that particular statistic, the market wasn’t portrayed as it truly is, which is healthy and accelerating. While not as heavily covered, the report also had findings supporting the market’s growth, citing nearly half of respondents have adopted, are in the process of adopting, or are planning to invest in Hadoop.
The fact that Gartner is paying such close attention is impressive in itself for an emerging technology like Hadoop. It’s a sign that adoption isn’t waning, as headlines would suggest – it’s becoming mainstream in enterprise IT.
Hortonworks, the only publicly traded Hadoop distributor, is strong indicator of the platform’s accelerating adoption. The company’s most recent earnings report boasted overall revenue growth of 154 percent, beating estimates by more than 30 percent. Hortonworks’ upward trajectory is just beginning, with Barclay anticipating that the company will become the fastest software company to reach $100 million in revenue – all just four years from its inception.
Combined with Gartner’s data, Hortonworks’ financials help to paint a strong picture of Hadoop’s rapid growth in the enterprise. However, like all emerging technologies, Hadoop isn’t without its challenges. As such a young technology, many companies remain unsure of how to get value from the platform and often get started by moving their data into Hadoop, using it as a data lake.
While an important first step, simply moving data into Hadoop won’t make for sustainable value creation. To deliver real business value, companies need to do something with the data, leveraging both Hadoop’s storage and processing capabilities at scale. There are two primary ways to do this.
The first, described as operational efficiency, involves migrating existing processes to Hadoop. Take data warehouse and mainframe offloading, for example. By offloading expensive and inefficient workloads to Hadoop, companies can achieve cost savings, improved flexibility and better performance, as seen with the Guardian Life Insurance Company’s modernized data architecture. With measurable ROI and known requirements, operational efficiency is a low-risk approach to jumpstarting Hadoop adoption.
The second, which can be referred to as business transformation, focuses on a use case that meets a specific business objective that was otherwise unattainable. One organization doing this is Dickie’s Barbecue, which is using Hadoop to improve store operations and continually optimize localized menu offerings. While business transformation can be longer term and complicated in nature, they can create game-changing value for companies, when successful.
These methods of utilizing Hadoop’s processing power represent the platform’s true potential. However, whether or not a company’s adoption is successful – or gets stuck in pilot mode – depends on the sequencing of their Hadoop initiatives. In our experience, companies are most successful when they start with operational efficiency to build a core infrastructure and see an initial payback, and then turn to business transformation use cases.
Hadoop is poised to stay in the Big Data spotlight. As more companies look to make the most of their investments and move beyond using Hadoop as a data lake, the technology will continue to make its way further into the mainstream. Contrary to headlines around the report, Gartner has forecasted Hadoop’s future success as “healthy, and growing [with] an enormous amount of upside adoption potential.” Companies that are leveraging the platform to its fullest potential, for operational efficiency and transformational use cases, will generate real value – and have a leg up on their competition.