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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Shaun Connolly, VP of Corporate Strategy at Hortonworks (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 8th 2013

Shaun Connolly is the vice president of corporate strategy at Hortonworks, a company with extensive experience in the application of Apache Hadoop, enabling companies to satisfy their big data needs through their Hortonworks Data Platform. In this interview, Shaun describes the services Hortonworks offers to clients, which include software support and consulting services. Shaun has worked for companies like VMware and SpringSource and has more than 25 years of experience in software. He graduated from Drexel University.

Sramana Mitra: Shaun, let´s start with some of your background as well as that of Hortonworks.

Shaun Connolly: I am the vice president of corporate strategy for Hortonworks. I have been in the enterprise open source platform business for the better part of the past decade, working at various leaders in the open source space, including JBoss, Red Hat, SpringSource, and VMware. I have been with Hortonworks for about two years. We do Hadoop, which is mostly focused on the big data area and is now a highly scalable platform for large data processing – it was originally conceived by Yahoo back in 2005 and 2006. We are very much part of the Apache Software Foundation open source community. As a business, we are focused on making Hadoop an enterprise-viable data platform that integrates well with modern data architectures for very large-scale big data processing. Our role, from a corporate strategy perspective, concerns how we structure our business, what we stand for as well as our strategy.

SM: Is it the classic business model of free open source software for people who are starting to develop, and if they are looking for premium services, they pay?

SC: Our focus is on engineers who write code and whose code goes 100% into the Apache Software Foundation projects – Apache Hadoop is one of those, but there is a series of other Apache projects that typically round out the enterprise Hadoop platform – whether they deal with Apache Hive or SQL processing, HBase, NoSQL database, or Apache Ambari, provisioning, managing, and monitoring Hadoop clusters at scale. Whether it is data services or a lot of the operational services – being able to operate Hadoop clusters at scale – all of those efforts go into the Apache Software foundation. What we do is integrate the stable releases that are already for enterprise consumption to an open source platform that we call Hortonworks Data Platform.

About 70% of our revenue comes from software support subscriptions. We pull together integrated open source distribution – similar to what Red Hat has as a business model. The other 30% of the business is driven around training and expert consulting services. If you think of us as an enterprise software vendor, we just happen to have an open source license, not a commercial software license.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Interview with Shaun Connolly, VP of Corporate Strategy at Hortonworks
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