back to article Yahoo! Hadoop! brain! spin-off! doomed! to! fail!

The once dominant Yahoo is apparently keen to compete with one of today's hottest startups, Cloudera, to own the affections of data plumbers everywhere. According to The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo is actively considering spinning out its Apache Hadoop engineering team into a startup, possibly backed by Benchmark Capital. The …


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Winning the Open Source category.

"Middleware? JBoss. Database? MySQL. Web content management? Acquia/Drupal. And so on."

Given the author's background it might be amusing to append: "Linux? Red Hat." to that little lot.

But then, as we know, all generalisations are wrong.......

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@Matt, the only failure is your article... and here's why.

Lets start with your preamble:

"The intent? Make a bunch of money from one of the industry's most important technologies, one used by a Who's Who of enterprises. The likely outcome? Utter failure."

If you made that statement about a start up in general, you'd have a safe bet. Most start-ups fizzle before anyone knows that they existed. Spin-offs? Even Spin-offs have a high failure rate.

But if Yahoo! spun off their Hadoop work, there is a high chance of success.

1) Access to capital. As you said... Yahoo! would retain a large share of the company and it also has a lot of capital so outside funding wouldn't necessarily be needed.

2) Brand recognition. Yahoo! definitely has a name and any spin off would equally get a lot of good publicity out of the gate.

3) Existing product. Yahoo! has been a major contributor of code to Hadoop. Sure Cloudera has been in this space and had already built up their ecosystem. But Yahoo! also has a lot of internal efforts that are critical to commercializing Hadoop. (Did you read the MR2 blogs?)

Of course you are right. A Yahoo! spin off would still be missing key core components that would be necessary for success.

A) Executive guidance and leadership.

B) Infrastructure for Support

C) Technical Writing Staff

D) Training

E) Professional Services Expertise

F) Professional Sales Team / Marketing

All of these areas are essential and if any Yahoo! spin off hits on these, it could easily out perform Cloudera. (Yes, I know a lot of the guys at Cloudera...)

To your point that Cloudera has already established themselves, yes that's true.

But its also true that being first to market doesn't always mean that you'll end up on top. ;-)

I'll wager that if Yahoo! looks outside of the Silicon Valley and taps the right people on the shoulder... they can outperform Cloudera and gain a serious chunk of market share.

They question you have to ask yourself. Can a Yahoo! spin off company provide better service and value than Cloudera? If so, they will do well.

But what do I know?


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Paris Hilton

@Matt, food for thought...

Your logic is that a Yahoo! spin off would fail because Cloudera is already in that space.

Ok, so as the former Ubuntu COO, how do you justify Ubuntu's existence when RedHat was there first?

I mean by your logic, Ubuntu, SuSE, and all of the other flavors of Linux are doomed to fail because RedHat is already there.

Anonymous Coward

First company to own ...

> Middleware? JBoss.

Huh? Since when? Glassfish is actually very popular, and JBoss's days were way back.

> Database? MySQL.

While someone can trot out some figure of usage, I've seen around me much more use of Postgresql, HSQLDB, H2, Derby etc; 5 yrs ago MySQL had higher percentage usage. Oracle's diversion of MySQL development and licensing policies have divided development resulting in many looking elsewhere

IT Angle

Yahoo who?

Yahoo never had a reason to exist and have produced exactly nothing in all their years of existing except a really lousy search engine and a largely pointless Javascript library. Never has luck played more part in the survival of a company.

This story is about Yahoo: where's the IT angle?

Anonymous Coward

The not really a startup startups

Another thing to consider here is that this company is a spin-off not a start up. In the main article the author made the key points himself, while taking away a very different set of conclusions. One was that the remaining talent were more of the 9 to 5 heavy lifting variety. This works in their favor since, as the author also pointed out, one of the main challenges facing hadoop's successful enterprise was not dreaming up new features, but making the existing package carrier grade.

I am also inclined to agree with I.M. above that Yahoo connection does bring some weight to the table. What I don't expect to see soon is news that either Cloudera or Yadoop! pulling a multi-billion year on this anytime soon. Yahoo's spinoff seems doomed to acquisition unless it has ambitions and a plan to be more than a one trick pony.


Badly informed article

This article is painfully bad. Unlike JBoss (open source, most contributors work for JBoss), Spring, MySQL, Apache Hadoop is managed by apache, and that organisations structure is designed (somewhat) to prevent a single vendor dominating. Yes, Cloudera can do its fork, so can IBM, but then they both take on the problem of testing at the scale of 1000+ servers, servers with 12TB of storage each.

And you you know who has that kind of storage to play with? Yahoo! and Facebook. Nobody else can test at that scale -even though others (Apple?) may want to play at that scale. What the Y! team can do is focus on the large scale datacentre problems, the ones where the cloudera licensing fees are too much (hey, these datacentres run CentOS to avoid paying for 1000 RHEL licenses). With the current Cloudera support license, it's cheaper to hire an ex-yahoo! person.

The other thing I'd like to point out -as a Hadoop Committer- is that while Cloudera has some excellent Hadoop developers -Doug, Tom White,. Todd, Aaron, Konstantin, to name some key ones, they don't own the Hadoop developer world. There's the LinkedIn people, the Facebook people, lots of little startups who are busy filing bugs against it. There are the people at adding layers on Hadoop, things that aren't yet mainstream (Hama for Graphs, Mahout for machine learning), there are the people working on Hadoop-compatible filesystems. It's open source, anyone can play, we welcome the users, we welcome the bug reports, and we welcome patches especially if they come with Junit tests. The whole MR2.0 engine is coming out of Yahoo! and it looks a great place to play. Come join us!

SteveL at apache dot org


Also consider Datastax' Brisk

Yahoo would also face competition from Brisk - Hadoop powered by Cassandra. This is another open source distro from Datastax.



"After all, Cloudera already employs some of the most critical Apache Hadoop developers, including Apache Hadoop co-founders Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella."

Doug and Mike haven't had a major patch contributed in years. Hardly crucial.


Talent went to Cloudera? So what!

These are not unionized auto workers who expect a job for life. This is the software industry where people change jobs like underwear.

Many of those who went over to Cloudera did so out of frustration of how yahoo was operating. Fix what's broken and give the right incentives and many will stream back.

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