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August 17, 2015
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Reflections from the New Guy

It’s been 20 years since I was “the new Guy.”

Hello friends and colleagues. I wanted share some thoughts after my first 90 days at Hortonworks. It’s been a thrill ride to say the least, there is all of the normal new guy / first impression stuff – and for those of you who know me, you know I am very sensitive to all that!

Working with our founders and engineering team has been a blast. Seeing the passion in their eyes, feeling the energy and enthusiasm in their voice, has been inspirational. Their unbridled dedication to our new compute and open source paradigm is evident and infectious.

It is clear that we are at the center of multiple inflection points.

First, the open source paradigm will continue to reshape how software is developed. Leveraging a community of brilliant people means constant innovation. It also means that these talented people actually compete to find the best solutions and approach to data management problems—and the real winners are users of Apache Hadoop and HDP.

Second, it is really about the platform. Providing the first real solution for quickly landing very large and very diverse data, Hadoop along with the broader ecosystem provides the ability to capture data that used to go to waste. This collective pool of information is the raw material for refined and advanced analytics that will drive improved business models.

Meeting our customers and prospects has also been quite revealing. These are companies who are redefining their industries by being data centric and data driven. Along the way, I’ve heard some common themes.

“Get Going.”

At the Hadoop Summit in June, we had a customer panel comprised of some real thought leaders. They all mentioned in their comments that the best thing they did was getting started. The sooner you start collecting and making broad and diverse data available to data scientists and business analysts, the sooner the value shows up. And, while it may seem ‘salesy,’ it’s actually the point. Today’s modern data architecture turns the normal IT projects upside down. Schema on read is the opposite of traditional models, and very relevant today. Big data and sources of big data evolve and change so rapidly that it’s only possible to glean value by landing and analyzing.

“We’ve only just begun.”

The new and innovative use cases are being invented now, taking advantage of the new ‘land it first’ mentality. From advances in patient care (made possible by integrating traditional and new diverse data sets), to connected car (optimizing customer experience) we are seeing new and break through analytics every week.

So, now let’s get grounded.

As with any newer and innovative technology, there is maturation. And it’s happening now. The question is no longer “Is hadoop important?” but “how can I expand the Hadoop ecosystem to drive even more value?” This is the truly exciting part of being the CTO here, and that is the huge opportunity we have in front of us. From adding new technology to the ecosystem, to driving standardization through efforts like Open Data Platform (ODP) to emerging trends like the IoT, we have a great future!

image006About the Author

Hortonworks’ Chief Technical Officer Scott Gnau has spent his entire career in the data industry, most recently as president of Teradata Labs where he provided visionary direction for research, development and sales support activities related to Teradata integrated data warehousing, big data analytics, and associated solutions. He also drove the investments and acquisitions in Teradata’s technology related to the solutions from Teradata Labs. Scott holds a BSEE from Drexel University. Follow Scott Gnau on Twitter

 

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