HPE buys MapR assets to fuel AI applications

Longtime independent big data vendor MapR goes out of business, selling technology and intellectual property to HPE. The move marks the continuing decline of the Hadoop market.

MapR is effectively out of business.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) acquired all MapR assets for an undisclosed sum Monday, saying it will use the big data and Hadoop stalwart's technology to power HPE's Intelligent Data Platform and enable it to offer a full portfolio of products to drive AI and machine learning applications.

MapR had been struggling in recent years. Vendors of cloud-based big data systems have outpaced on-premises-based vendors such as MapR and Cloudera, which has also faltered since merging with former archrival Hortonworks. MapR said in May it might have to lay off employees if it could not raise capital.

It is unclear after HPE's acquisition of the MapR assets whether HPE will also offer jobs to MapR's approximately 200 employees worldwide. Also still to be seen is whether HPE will continue developing MapR software and issuing new releases.

"I assume it was the proverbial fire sale," said Doug Henschen, a Constellation Research analyst. "If I were an existing MapR customer, I'd want to know if HPE is going to support them and continue to develop MapR products."

Henschen said HPE representatives told him the company is still working on transition details but wants to acquire as much MapR talent as possible, and is committed to supporting MapR customers and working with them on renewing their contracts.

If I were an existing MapR customer, I'd want to know if HPE is going to support them and continue to develop MapR products.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

In a release, HPE said the transaction to acquire the MapR assets includes MapR's technology, intellectual property and domain expertise in AI and machine learning and analytics data management.

HPE also said the MapR assets will help it build a "next-generation edge-to-edge cloud AI-ML pipeline" by extending the capabilities of HPE's BlueData, which it acquired in November, for stateful container-based applications.

Henschen said he is looking forward to more details about how MapR will fit in with BlueData.

Meanwhile, he called the deal a mixed opportunity for Cloudera, which stands to benefit but also will operate in a shrinking market.

"They have the opportunity to inherit some MapR customers, but it's a short-term opportunity," Henschen said. "You like to have multiple choices in a market."

For HPE, the main benefit of acquiring the MapR assets is gaining access to MapR's customer base, he said.

"What MapR's customers have is a lot of data, and that's an opportunity for HPE," Henschen said.

MapR was once a leader in enterprise big data providers and was a pioneer in bringing Hadoop framework to enterprises.

Unlike some other vendors, though, it developed its own file format and was not tied directly to the Hadoop Distributed File System used by Cloudera and the former Hortonworks. MapR also was known for other proprietary technologies, such as its own database and streaming systems, rather than using open source tools.

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