Hadoop Tipping Point

2 05 2013

If you’ve ever been to a Hadoop or Big Data meetup, typically it’s full of developers in jeans and sneakers indulging in pizza and beer while engaging with one or more presenters (also engineers in jeans and sneakers). Lots of demos with lines and lines of command outputs and code scrolling across screens more quickly than my eye can capture, never mind my mind grok. And everyone is happy, cuz it really is all about pizza, beer and code.

From Morton Grodzins, UChicago poly sci professor “in sociology, a tipping point is a point in time when a group–-or a large number of group members–rapidly and dramatically changes its behavior by widely adopting a previously rare practice.” This past week I witnessed what I believe is a tipping point in the world of Hadoop and Big Data.

Cloudera hosted a session in Boston on “Getting the Most from Hadoop”. The Boston Hadoop User Group was among the invitees. I snagged a latte after driving into rainy Boston for the all-day event, registered, and then found myself in a hotel event room, with scrambled eggs and BACON (possibly better than pizza and beer in my book). I navigated the room, chatting up some peeps, and found that almost no one there had used Hadoop at all. Few had downloaded it, experimented with it, and many weren’t really certain what to do with it. I took a closer look, and saw more khakis than jeans (even though I was still sporting mine) and many more shoes than sneakers (well, I wear heels to most meetups, so I have little to comment on there). It was weird.

Then the event started. Kicked off by a team of Cloudera marketing and sales peeps – all in suits! A couple formal presos – one from a sponsor – followed. All powerpoints, not code scrolling rapidly across screens. I started getting really nervous – surely this was not appropriate for the Hadoop audience.

Yet no one left the room. Everyone was intently listening. The guy next to me was taking pictures and had a stack of business cards that he had collected from anyone he could. The guy on the other side of me asked if my company used Hadoop, and wanted to know how we got started. I spent a bunch of time talking to people about how Hadoop and the traditional data warehouse can play complementary roles, which seemed to be a huge concern from the audience.

And that’s when I realized Cloudera had helped ‘tip’ Hadoop from the original group of early adopters to a broader audience. The room was full of enterprise IT peeps. Wow.




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