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Google, Yahoo & Facebook defectors form Hadoop

Startup builds open source computing platform

A team including former Google, Yahoo and Facebook employees is launching a startup that will provide professional support for Hadoop, an open-source computing platform that makes it easier to write programs that process large amounts of data.

Yahoo is among the companies that use Hadoop, which employs the Google-developed MapReduce framework, in their operations.

Now Cloudera's founders are betting that there is money to be made supporting other Hadoop installations, whether on a customer's own set of machines or Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

"Think Red Hat for Hadoop, but that is just the beginning," said co-founder Amr Awadallah. Awadallah was previously vice president of engineering on a business intelligence team at Yahoo charged with improving the user search experience and making more money off the search site.

Former Googler Christophe Bisciglia is also on board. Bisciglia was a main driver behind the Academic Cluster Computing Initiative, a Google-IBM project that has provided Hadoop-powered machine clusters for academic use.

In addition, Jeff Hammerbacher, previously manager of Facebook's data team, is a co-founder of Cloudera. "The [Facebook data] team made a lot of contributions to Hadoop under his stewardship, most important of which is Hive (a SQL structured data layer on top of Hadoop)," Awadallah wrote.

Other company founders include Mike Olson, former CEO of Sleepycat, a company known for the open-source Berkeley DB database engine. Oracle bought Sleepycat in 2006.

Cloudera won't immediately feel the expected effects of the struggling economy on venture capital spending, Awadallah said. "We are in the process of wrapping up our funding (we don't need any more cash at this point), and will soon announce our investors and technical advisors."

Other details about the company's plans, such as pricing models, were not available. Cloudera could not immediately be reached Wednesday for a follow-up interview. The company will be based in the San Francisco area, though a specific location was not listed at its website.

News of the startup's plans sparked generally positive reactions from industry observers.

"Given the current economic outlook it's great to see a new open source start-up rearing its head, and the list of founders indicates that this one has a good chance of survival," 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett noted in a blog post.

Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady weighed in via email. "It's clear that demand for the services that Hadoop provides is only going up. Most enterprises, even large ones with substantial investments in IT, lack the scale-out skills common to eBay, Google, Yahoo, et al. Commercially available and supported Hadoop would be one attractive solution to that problem."


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