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Cloudera Data Platform to debut, as big data fortunes waver

The interim CEO of Cloudera is cautiously optimistic about growth prospects as the big data vendor acquired Arcadia Data and planned to bolster its own cloud platform.

Big data stalwart Cloudera is a vendor in transition, with an interim CEO, a new acquisition and a major release coming soon with the Cloudera Data Platform, on which much of the company’s fortunes is riding.

Cloudera on Sept. 4 reported its second quarter fiscal 2020 financial results, losing $87 million, or 31 cents a share, but with revenues rising higher than expectations to $196.7 million, up from $113 million a year ago due to its merger with former rival Hortonworks. Cloudera stock was markedly up in trading this week.

Cloudera also made public its acquisition of certain assets of big data analytics vendor Arcadia Data, for an undisclosed price, to help further expand the Cloudera portfolio. Arcadia’s ArcEngine technology and related services provide artificial intelligence powered analytics and business intelligence.

Analysts had mixed views on the acquisition.

Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, noted that Arcadia was his firm's top rated big data analytics system last year and Cloudera is one of the top rated analytical data infrastructure vendors and the two vendors’ systems already interoperate.

But Mike Matchett, founder of the Small World Big Data consultancy, said it's interesting that Cloudera still "needs" yet more analytics software in its portfolio.

"This may also be a sign that Cloudera has been feeling more pressure to widen their portfolio and meet a broader range of end-user data analytical needs," Matchett said.

Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research said he sees Arcadia’s data access acceleration and big data analytics capabilities as complementing, rather than overlapping, Cloudera’s existing technology.

"Arcadia started out by specializing in high-performance data-access and analytics against Hadoop and had more recently extended that promise to cloud object stores and streaming data by way of Kafka," Henschen said.  "Arcadia’s competitors include AtScale and Kyvos, and all three companies have shifted their emphasis to high-scale data sources other than Hadoop and particularly cloud options."

During the earnings call, interim CEO Marty Cole noted that Arcadia has been a Cloudera partner and the companies have joint customers. Cole said the goal is for the Arcadia technology to help improve productivity and timely insight for business users when using Cloudera Data Platform with cloud objects stores.

"Arcadia’s ArcEngine software uses machine learning to anticipate and precompute common queries and reports for self-service access to data and accelerated analytic response times," Cole said. We expect Arcadia's technology to enhance the usability of our platform."

Cloudera Data Platform

The big push for Cole is the rollout of the Cloudera Data Platform, a cloud-based delivery model for the company's Hadoop-based big data technology. Cole said that during the second quarter, the initial releases of the Cloudera Data Platform public cloud services debuted as part of a phased rollout.

We are focused on meeting customers’ demands for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions that support use cases from the Edge to AI, that is the promise of the enterprise data cloud and CDP.
Marty ColeInterim CEO, Cloudera

Cole emphasized the importance of the Cloudera Data Platform to the future success of Cloudera, noting that cloud service providers today are his company's primary competition.

"We are focused on meeting customers’ demands for hybrid and multi-cloud solutions that support use cases from the edge to AI; that is the promise of the enterprise data cloud and CDP," he said.

As part of the phased rollout, only a select group of customers are evaluating the Cloudera Data Platform. Cole said that the formal launch is set for the Strata Data Conference in New York later this month.

"It is a groundbreaking set of offerings that lay the foundation for the enterprise data cloud, spanning multiple public and private clouds, as well as data centers," Cole said.

The business of Cloudera

Cole said during the earnings call that year-over-year comparisons on the financial results are not meaningful, because of the Hortonworks merger.

Cole also addressed his role as interim CEO. Cole become the interim chief executive in June after former CEO Tim Reilly made an early exit from the company. Cole said that he had “no news’’ to share about a permanent CEO, other than a search is ongoing.

During the earnings call, Cole was also asked about competition, and in particular MapR, which was acquired by HPE in August. Cole said at this point he sees HPE's acquisition as a positive development for Cloudera, that could lead to new customers and partners. "We're optimistic that it will lead to improved results and certainly more wins for us," he said.

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