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Q&A: Cloudera’s Mike Olson on Hadoop and Oracle Big Data Appliance

To help unlock business value from the massive volumes of data bombarding organizations today, Oracle has partnered with Cloudera, the leader in Apache Hadoop-based software, services, and training, to build Oracle Big Data Appliance, an engineered system for acquiring, organizing, and loading unstructured data into Oracle Database 11g. Key software components of Oracle Big Data Appliance include Cloudera’s Distribution Including Apache Hadoop and Cloudera Manager. We asked Mike Olson, CEO and cofounder of Cloudera, to give us a peek under the hood of this technology that is helping customers take advantage of big data.

Q. What inspired you to found Cloudera?
A. I'm a database guy, by both training and inclination. I concentrated on databases during my bachelor's and master's degrees at UC Berkeley. In the 1990s, I helped found Sleepycat Software, makers of Berkeley Database, which was eventually acquired by Oracle in 2006. That's when I joined Oracle as vice president for embedded technologies.

However, I loved working for a small, fast-growing company, and wanted to replicate the experience I had with Sleepycat. So I did some research and saw the huge potential of Hadoop to unlock the value of big data, and in 2008 we founded Cloudera to make that happen.

Q. Please provide a brief introduction to Hadoop.
A. Hadoop was originally inspired by the programming model and file system used by Google's MapReduce. It is an open-source, Java-based programming framework that uses a very simple programming model to enable the distributed processing of very large volumes of data across computing clusters. It can scale from just a few servers to thousands of machines, each of which offers local computation and storage. It provides highly fault-tolerant data storage and management, while taking advantage of low-cost hardware.

Q. What problems does Cloudera’s Hadoop technology help solve?
A. Hadoop is a powerful, open-source framework, but it can also be very tricky to integrate into enterprise-grade deployments. Cloudera’s Distribution Including Apache Hadoop provides an integrated Apache Hadoop-based stack that has been tested and packaged to work together. Cloudera Manager automates the installation process; provides a clusterwide, real-time view of operations; delivers configuration management; and provides a full range of reporting and diagnostic tools.

Q. How are Cloudera customers leveraging Hadoop to drive business value?
A. Essentially, we are helping companies tackle intractable business challenges with new algorithms.

For example, financial institutions have traditionally relied on trading and economic data to try to measure the risk and value of their investment portfolios. Now, we can help them leverage massive amounts of data from Twitter and other social networks to measure investor sentiment in new ways.

In a similar way, we're helping telecommunications companies understand customer churn by looking beyond historic customer data to include social network and other third-party data.

On the Cloudera blog, you can see how Hadoop can help deliver unprecedented insight into drug interactions.

Q. What’s the customer benefit of Cloudera on Oracle Big Data Appliance?
A. Cloudera is without question the leader in Apache Hadoop-based solutions for the enterprise. We have the largest installed base in the industry, we have the most mature Hadoop solutions on the market, and we deliver the most secure solutions. Like Oracle, we understand that our job is not just about building great software, but ensuring that our customers achieve business success. Cloudera has a proven track record of delivering world-class service to our customers.

Find out more about Oracle Big Data Appliance.

Learn more about Cloudera.

Hear more from Mike Olson in Oracle’s big data panel discussion.

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