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Microsoft Finally Brings Hadoop Big Data To Windows Azure

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Redmond and Hortonworks are bringing big data to Windows users, with previews of Hadoop solutions for Windows Server and Windows Azure

As Microsoft undertakes the final preparations for the glitzy Windows 8 launch on Friday, it made another important announcement for enterprises by offering a way for Windows users to utilise Hadoop-based big data thanks to a partnership with Hortonworks.

Apache Hadoop is of course the popular open-source storage and data analysis framework, and Microsoft has long been working on integrating it within the Windows environment. Last October for example it revealed its plans for tackling big data within the enterprise, saying it would include an Apache Hadoop-based distribution for Windows Server and Windows Azure.

And then in March 2012 Microsoft announced it was developing a feature that would allow Excel users to import data from Hadoop.

Cheap Analytics?

The partnership with Hortonworks has now borne fruit after Microsoft announced at Hadoop World that it has expanded the partnership with the company. Hortonworks is best known as being the team that has contributed more than 80 percent of all the code in Hadoop.

Microsoft also revealed that it has released new previews of its Hadoop-based solutions for Windows Server and Windows Azure, which it is now calling ‘Microsoft HDInsight Server for Windows’ and ‘Windows Azure HDInsight Service.’

This will provide enterprises the chance to explore, mine, and analyse Hadoop big data, but in a familiar Windows environment and using familiar Microsoft tools. For example, the previews will allow customers to use Excel, PowerPivot for Excel and Power View to “easily extract actionable insights from the data.”

“Big data should provide answers for business, not complexity for IT,” said David Campbell, technical fellow at Microsoft. “Providing Hadoop compatibility on Windows Server and Azure dramatically lowers the barriers to setup and deployment and enables customers to pull insights from any data, any size, on-premises or in the cloud.”

Big data is the term applied to very large sets of both structured and unstructured data. Being able to access, store, analyse these large datasets has previously been a difficult, expensive, and highly complex process often only found in data warehouses. But nowadays, thanks to open source platforms such as Hadoop, the ability to conduct this type of work has now been brought within the grasp of many enterprise organisations.

Partnership Deals

Meanwhile, coupled with the new previews, Microsoft also announced an expanded partnership with Hortonworks, in order to give customers “access to an enterprise-ready distribution of Hadoop with the newly released solutions.”

“Hortonworks is the only provider of Apache Hadoop that ensures a 100 percent open source platform,” said Rob Bearden, CEO of Hortonworks. “Our expanded partnership with Microsoft empowers customers to build and deploy on platforms that are fully compatible with Apache Hadoop.”

Indeed, Bearden has been busy on the partnership front, after it was also revealed that Rackspace Hosting has signed a strategic agreement with Hortonworks.

This deal means the two companies will collaborate to deliver to deliver OpenStack and Hadoop-based big data solutions for public and private clouds.

“Together, Rackspace and Hortonworks will focus on eliminating the complexities and time-consuming, manual processes that are required today for implementing a Big Data solution,” the two companies announced. It said that the joint effort will pursue an OpenStack-based Hadoop solution for the public and private cloud, which can easily be deployed in minutes.

“Running Hadoop on your own is complex, which is why we’re excited about our development efforts with Hortonworks,” said John Engates, CTO of Rackspace. “We have customers today that deploy Hadoop clusters on dedicated hardware at Rackspace with support from Hortonworks. By joining forces, we intend to turn Hadoop into an on-demand service running on the Rackspace open cloud and in clusters on private cloud infrastructure in our data centres or the customer’s data centre.

“The Hortonworks Data Platform packages the open source Apache version of Hadoop,” Engates added. “That aligns with our vision of an open cloud future that eliminates fear of vendor lock-in, and allows customers to confidently invest in a technology for the long term.”

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