Yesterday marked the first ever Cloudera analyst day, held at the Omni Hotel in sunny San Francisco, and judging by the agenda and attendance they are attracting a lot of interest as a thought leader in big data. The speakers were engaging and passionate about answering three of my favorite questions:
- Where are we going?
- How will we get there?
- What’s in it for me?
In their answers, there were some pretty clear ideas about how Cloudera aims to change the game and move from being a disruptor to being a dominator in IT.
Here are the three keys to success for Cloudera, respectively:
- Establish the enterprise data hub as the core repository and platform for all business data. Tom Reilly and Alan Saldich together covered the company’s goal of refocusing data to ask bigger questions, and made a strong case for how an enterprise data hub can link data sources and existing platforms into a central headquarters for storing, processing, analyzing, and leveraging data in many, many ways. They don’t need to replace data warehouses or data marts or transactional databases, they just need to encapsulate them into a more powerful, more flexible factory for insights. Their popular online training via Udacity is a genius way to convert the masses to this vision.
- Leverage their lead in building a unified technology stack, simultaneously organically built and with a broad partner ecosystem. Tim Stevens and Charles Zedlewski outlined how Cloudera intends to take a parallel path down making their hub more comprehensive in its functionality and robustness, alongside partnerships spanning alliances and go-to-market channels to fill the gaps. They contend that building the myriad components together will make for a more cohesive, more governable data environment, versus IBM or Pivotal who may have gained their broad portfolios through acquisition and retroactive integration. The alliance partnerships may provide best-of-breed complements to Cloudera, but it remains to be seen if these will be any more tightly tied than their competitors. The go-to-market however is essential in getting the adoption and deployment success for their customers.
- Celebrate their new funding with a serious campaign towards winning mindshare and marketshare. The biggest challenge any big data vendor has today is that at a 10k foot view they all sound identical, and at a single customer use-case view they all sound uniquely business-customized specific. What’s missing is the standard models for solving common challenges by line of business or industry vertical, and more importantly how their technology is specialized in any way to do that. I’ve never seen such a gap in any other IT discipline from “our technology will transform the world” to “here’s what your business needs to do.” If Cloudera can put their $160m in new funding to good use communicating their differentiation in how customers can monetize big data with the enterprise data hub, then they should be able to grow rapidly into the market position they seek for an eventual IPO. While their guest testimonials were uniformly positive, they didn't clearly illuminate reproducible best practices.
My last thought is that there was still very little said about enterprise operational requirements like data protection and disaster recovery, but this again is endemic across big data today, and the issue is one of prioritizing application and feature maturity over more prosaic but no less critical good house-keeping.
All in, it was a great day, and I for one will be keen to see Cloudera’s execution on the vision they established.