Open source vendor Hortonworks shifting to packaged solutions for IoT and cyber security

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Hortonworks CTO Scott Gnau

The vendor of big data services and support based on open source technology is shifting towards more packaged solutions

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Hortonworks is planning to release specific solutions for the internet of things (IoT) and cyber security based on its core HDP and HDF big data platforms later this year.

Speaking this week at the DataWorks Summit in Munich, Germany, chief technology officer Scott Gnau explained how the company is looking to release more packaged solutions to ease adoption of the open source software for large enterprises.

Gnau told Computerworld UK: "Solutions are the natural evolution that we are building and so I would expect to see a couple of horizontals in IoT and potentially the cyber space. So creating an extensible platform and have applications plug in more seamlessly, across all industries."

Hortonworks traditionally helps customers get to grips with open source technologies like Apache, Hadoop, Spark, and NiFi. Bundling the software and services into consumable packages is a natural move that should help the business sell in to areas that might not typically consider Hortonworks – like IoT and cyber.

It can be likened to what Salesforce has done with its cloud-based CRM: build up the core platform and a customer base of early adopters, blueprint the use cases, and then package these up around distinct verticals to ease adoption in the enterprise market.

Hortonworks dipped its toe in the water in February by launching an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) optimisation tool. This paves the way for the future solutions in that they will all look roughly the same: a software licence, support services and seven weeks of professional services bundled together. According to Gnau: "We give you all the core ingredients and we make the first one for you, and you can watch."

Chief strategy officer Shaun Connolly added that industry-specific solutions in verticals where Hortonworks already has good traction – like automotive and manufacturing – also make sense.

"I would imagine those are the industries where we come up with packaged solutions with partner technologies," he said. 

Connolly anticipates Hortonworks will unearth "repeatable patterns" for cyber security in industries like financial services and telecommunications, which should allow it to create specific solutions.

Gnau warns customers that these solutions won't be "point and click" though, saying that is a "technical impossibility".

Hortonworks counts 1,000 customers already but has seen its stock price halve since floating at the end of 2014, from 21.90 at the end of 2015 to 10.75 at the time of writing.

CB Insights reported this week a general softening in the market for companies that have traditionally sold services and support around Hadoop. It states: "The challenges faced by Hortonworks and the likely challenges faced by Cloudera and MapR have also made investors shy away from Hadoop."

Hortonworks will have to compete with proprietary vendors in the space though. For example Splunk, which has branched out from log analysis into streaming data for IT operations, cyber security and IoT, as well as industry vertical-specific solutions.

But Gnau says he isn't worried about the competition. "I don't know that it is direct head-to-head competition," he said. "I view Splunk as a really good application that does a very good job and is well received in the marketplace but I am not in the applications business. In those horizontal spaces I look to create an extension to the platform which enables customers to get things done."

Hortonworks isn't announcing a date that customers will be able to buy these products just yet.

"We will have some additional offers later this year, so relevant in the cyber security space and the IoT space and we are still working through what the next one will be," Gnau said.

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