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Behind the Cloudera-Hortonworks Merger: 'The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend'

Fending off hypercloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft was a driver for the merger. But there's more to it than that.

Mitch Wagner

October 8, 2018

3 Min Read
Behind the Cloudera-Hortonworks Merger: 'The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend'

The merger between Cloudera and Hortonworks, two formerly fierce rivals in big data analytics, will help them compete against even bigger threats from public cloud platforms, such as Amazon and Microsoft, as well as specialized startups.

In the words of the ancient Klingon proverb: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Cloudera Inc. and Hortonworks, both leaders in implementing Hadoop for big data analytics, decided they needed each other to fend off their common competitors.

Cloudera and Hortonworks "went hard and heavy at one another," Mick Hollison, Cloudera chief marketing officer, tells Light Reading. But now they face bigger competition: from the native analytics offerings provided by the big cloud companies including Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), as well as speciality cloud platforms such as Databricks and Snowflake.

Figure 1: Cloudera CMO Mick Hollison Cloudera CMO Mick Hollison

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But the story is more complicated than that. The two companies' strengths complement each other -- Cloudera with machine learning and AI, and Hortonworks with edge and IoT. Even as they competed, they cooperated in the open source communities developing the core technologies on which they both depend, Hadoop and more than 30 other, related projects. And they both compete and cooperate with the big public cloud providers, hosting customer workloads on the public clouds. Indeed, pre-merger Cloudera recently won an award from the Microsoft channel partners organization, Hollison says.

The two rivals last week that they plan to merge into a single company, to be named Cloudera, as a merger of equals, with a combined equity value of $5.2 billion based on the closing stock prices October 2. (See Cloudera & HortonWorks Merge Into $5.2B Analytics Provider.)

Under the terms of the transaction, Cloudera stockholders will own about 60% equity of the new company, with Hortonworks stockholders holding the remaining 40%.

The combined Cloudera will have about $720 million revenue, with more than 2,500 customers. More than 120 customers of the two companies provide more than $1 million annual recurring revenue, with very little overlap, which means there will be opportunities to sell Cloudera products to Hortonworks customers, and vice versa, Hollison says.

While much of Cloudera's workloads are hosted on public cloud, on-premises deployment is still a mainstay of the business. "When Cloudera started in 2008, the original vision was around public cloud, but people weren't ready to put their most valuable resource in the cloud," he says.

Today, pre-merger Cloudera is the only platform that supports all four of the major cloud providers -- Microsoft, Amazon, Google and IBM. That's a competitive advantage, Hollison says. And the combined companies' software's ability to run on-premises is a competitive advantage against the public cloud providers, Hollison says; the combined Cloudera is hybrid cloud while the public cloud platforms are not.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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