Red Hat Reveals Desire to Get Into the Hadoop/NoSQL Business


Red Hat will likely acquire a player in the Apache Hadoop and/or NoSQL space in the near future CEO Jim Whitehurst said in an interview with “When I say I don’t want to be a database company, I’m saying that I don’t want to be a SQL database company,” he told the publication. “But we would be very interested in a NoSQL type database or Hadoop type thing. Those are interesting as they represent net new.”

In other words, Red Hat is smart enough not to take on Oracle directly, but it is interested in next generation data storage, management and analysis solutions. Whitehurst explained that enterprises rarely replace existing technologies, so new complimentary technologies are a better bet.

Red Hat already has Global File System (GFS) and earlier this year launched JBoss Enterprise Data Grid, an Amazon Dynamo-inspired distributed data store. But last year Red Hat promised an aggressive acquisition agenda, so don’t be surprised to see it pick up one or more companies in the big data space.

Matthew Aslett from the 451 Group speculates that Red Hat would likely lose in a bidding war for Cloudera, the makers of the Cloudera Distribution Including Hadoop and employers of Hadoop creator Doug Cutting. He also points out that Hortonworks is an unlikely target, given that it was only recently spun out of Yahoo.

Aslett suggests DataStax as a strong possibility. DataStax is the sponsor of Apache Cassandra, the Dynamo-inspired data store open sourced by Facebook. It also offers its own distribution of Hadoop which uses Cassandra as a data store instead of the standard HBase. And of course it provides enterprise support for both products.

Other Hadoop companies include MapR, which EMC is using in its Hadoop appliance, and Hadapt.

As for non-Hadoop based NoSQL startups, Aslett mentions 10gen (the sponsor of MongoDB) and Couchbase (the sponsor of Membase Server and Apache CouchDB). Red Hat’s OpenShift platform supports both MongoDB and Membase. Other possibilities include Basho, sponsor of Riak, and Cloudant, sponsor of Big Couch, and CitrusLeaf. Neo4j from NeoTechnologies has some interesting technology, but I’m not sure if it would fit with Red Hat’s strategy. On the other hand, it would be uniquely positioned from many of the other NoSQL technologies on the market.

Services Angle

Everyone likes to play “who should acquire what,” but there’s a more important message here. Red Hat’s interest in this market shows where the next enterprise tech battles will be fought: in the big data arena. And data is what services are made of in a multi-tenant world. This is just further proof that big data is a defining mega-trend that affects services providers of all varieties.