Hortonworks, Microsoft Team for Hadoop-Excel Support

by Pedro Hernandez

Yahoo spin-off joins with Microsoft for tools that could potentially grow Hadoop's popularity by millions of users.

Hortonworks, a maker of a Hadoop distribution bearing its namesake and a provider of related support and training services, is working on a connector to link Excel with the open source Big Data processing platform. It has a high-profile ally in the effort: Microsoft.

The companies previously partnered on getting Hadoop to run on Windows Server. Microsoft, of course, brings its knowledge of the inner workings of its own software and how to interface with it. Hortonworks was spun off from Yahoo!, Hadoop's birthplace, last year. Its founding members include key ex-Yahoo staffers, including CTO Eric Baldeschwieler, former vice president of Hadoop Software Engineering.

Now Hortonworks and Microsoft are working on a Hive ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) driver that extends data analysis capabilities to Excel. It's a model that they expect will bring Hadoop-powered business intelligence functionality to the venerable spreadsheet software via Microsoft's PowerPivot.

The project is part of a broader open source collaboration that involves developing a JavaScript framework that the companies hope "will enable millions of JavaScript developers to perform iterative prototyping and interactive exploration of Hadoop data."

To accomplish that, Hortonworks is rubbing elbows with a software giant that carries a lot of clout with software developers.

Embarking on an Excel-lent Adventure?

Eric Baldeschwieler, spells out the significance of the announcement. In short, Hadoop is poised to attract many more admirers.

"There are many more millions of Excel and PowerPivot users that can also now derive value from Apache Hadoop using software is that already very familiar to them," he writes. "Simply put, these contributions by Microsoft will extend Apache Hadoop to the most prolific data analysis tools in the world."

Baldeschwieler also notes how the notoriously closed-source company is now a backer of an open source project that can potentially touch millions of users and developers.

"They are embracing open source and giving back in a true open source tradition. Not only are they contributing code that allows Apache Hadoop to run effectively on Windows, they are also contributing a new JavaScript framework and an enhanced Hive ODBC driver," he states.

Ultimately, Microsoft's involvement lends momentum to Hortonworks' vision. The company envisions Apache Hadoop processing "half of the world's data within the next five years (or less)."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

  This article was originally published on Thursday Mar 1st 2012
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