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August 17, 2016
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Microsoft & Hortonworks – Q&A with Hans Weiser & Mark Mason

Needless to say, partners are a crucial part of the Hadoop community and that’s evidenced by the number of organisations Hortonworks is connected with as part of our PartnerWorks Programme.  Back in October 2011, we announced our partnership with Microsoft to collaborate on a Hadoop distribution for Microsoft Azure and Windows Server.  Since that announcement, our partnership has gone from strength to strength.

Earlier today, I spent some time talking to Hans Wieser who is responsible for Hortonworks’ relationship with Microsoft in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Mark Mason, our director of channels and alliances.  As a vendor community, we all partner in so many ways so I found it interesting to hear exactly how Microsoft and Hortonworks are doing so for the benefit of our customers….

Q:  How is Microsoft’s Azure business developing and how it that relevant to Hortonworks and our customers?

On a general note, Microsoft Azure is rocketing.  We are in 34 regions around the world today – offering a huge amount of scale and a reliable, enterprise ready solution that comes with Level 1 & Level 2 and Level3 support from Microosft & Hortonworks. At the end of Q2 2016, Forrester named Azure as a leader in its Big Data Hadoop Cloud Services report highlighting that Microsoft has a cloud-first strategy that is paying off.  You can read Tiffany Wissner’s blog for more information about the Forrester report, including a quote from Hortonworks’ Matt Morgan.

Specific to our partnership, Azure HDInsight uses Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) Hadoop distribution. HDInsight deploys and provisions managed Apache Hadoop clusters in the cloud, providing a software framework designed to process, analyse, and report on big data with high reliability and availability but with minimal management overhead for the customers, providing a great starting point for customers looking to embark on their Big Data journey but without specific skills.

Put simply, it is a Hortonworks cluster that runs and powers solutions for our customers, in production or in evaluation, including Rolls Royce, Real Madrid, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Schneider Electric and Pearson (Louise note:  You can find details on other customers here)

Q:  In terms of Microsoft and Hortonworks joint solutions, what is available today?

We have four solutions that our organisations are working together on with customers:

  1. HDP on Azure IAAS – its runs in Azure VMs on Linux
  2. HDInsight – runs in Azure as a service on Linux
  3. HDInsight Premium – it is the same as above but also includes Microsoft R Server
  4. Microsoft R Server – runs in Azzure IAAS and on premise

Recent findings of the series of interviews conducted by IDC analysts show that Microsoft Azure HDInsight customers achieve on average five year return on investment of 418%.  In addition, in comparison to other Hadoop deployments, HDInsight has a 63% lower average total cost of ownership (TCO) on a per terabyte basis and delivers 66% of IT staff efficiencies.

Q:  Microsoft offers a managed PaaS offering for HDInsight, what is driving interest in that solution?

We are seeing a healthy growth in customers wanting to access Hadoop and Apache products but not all of those want to manage the servers.  The ability to spin up a Hadoop Distribution in minutes as elastic clusters with a pay-as-you-go usage model is incredibly compelling.  It overcomes the need to immediate deployment expertise and the ongoing patching and upgrades are taken care of so customers can focus on trialling their use cases.  Furthermore, support is built into the pricing with Microsoft taking levels 1 and 2 and Hortonworks providing level 3.

Q:  We have a joint responsibility to clearly articulate the differences between HDInsights and Hortonworks Data Platform with our customers, how would you best describe that?

Hans: Really it comes down to cloud consumption and a customer’s preferred approach.  What’s important for a customer is that when they are working with Microsoft and Hortonworks they have a choice as to how to start on their journey with Hadoop.  HDInsights is not as flexible or feature rich as Hortonworks Data Platform but that’s not to say it isn’t satisfying the use cases of many customers.  For example, we’ve seen one customer decrease operational costs by 70% thanks to predictive fuel, maintenance and asset lifecycle management with HDInsights.  Finally, 75% of all Microsoft customer already use Azure mitigating the need for any hardware procurement and that can be very attractive when beginning a data-driven journey.

Mark:  As a partnership we aim to assist the customer on their journey towards becoming a data driven business. When customers first start this journey there may not be a welath of skills internally nor the time and infrastructure available to “go it alone”. What the joint approach allows is to deploy HDInsight, help the customer to understand what is acheivable and then make the decisions on the next steps. These could be to expand the current HDInsight deployment, it could be to move to HDP on Azure with a greater featureset and more flexibility, but ultimately whatever the next step on the journey is Hortonworks and Micrsoft are ideally positioned to provide value to the customers we’re working alongside

Q:  Finally, what are you seeing at Microsoft in terms of how the Hadoop landscape has changed in the past 12 months?

The major trend I’ve observed is that conversations with customers have shifted to business outcomes.  We are no longer in a position where technological details are at the forefront of the discussions; our capabilities and ability to execute are taken for granted – and rightly so.

Organisations are looking at Microsoft and Hortonworks’ partnership due to our ability to deliver a platform that scales globally and is able to demonstrate clear value to the business stakeholders.  It’s about transformative impact and it goes far beyond silo-ed big data conversations, it’s truly about the broader use cases for Hadoop and what new business strategies, models and monetised services it will uncover.


Thanks to Hans and Mark for sparing the time  and don’t forget to see Microsoft at the Hortonworks Future of Data Roadshows in Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, Munich and London.



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