At first glance, Hadoop and NoSQL adoption rates continue to surge for big data applications. But two separate customer surveys -- from Gartner and Unisphere Research, respectfully -- question just how fast those technologies are catching on.
More than half of surveyed enterprises have no current plans for Hadoop investment, according to Gartner Inc.'s 2015 Hadoop Adoption Study. In a similar survey from Unisphere and Dell, 57 percent of respondents claim their companies don't have plans to adopt Hadoop within the next three years and 56 percent lack any NoSQL plans.
Among Gartner's additional findings:
- Only 26 percent of respondents claim to be either deploying, piloting or experimenting with Hadoop, while 11 percent plan to invest within 12 months and seven percent are planning investment in 24 months.
- 57 percent of respondents said skills gaps are a major inhibitor to Hadoop adoption. Even as vendors introduce new training and education services, Gartner says it will be two to three years before the skills challenge is addressed.
- 49 percent of respondents said they haven't figured out how to get value from Hadoop.
The big question: Is the glass half full or half empty for open source technologies like NoSQL and Hadoop?
In many midsize and large organizations, NoSQL has emerged as a way to more easily manage unstructured data. At the same time, Hadoop storage grids have gained popularity for running distributed analysis applications. Moreover, small businesses that can't afford that complex infrastructure -- hardware, storage, networks, etc. -- can instead leverage NoSQL and Hadoop cloud services from a growing list of public cloud providers.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that both big data platforms enjoy strong overall market growth. Among the data points:
- MarkLogic Corp., a NoSQL specialist, raised $102 million at a pre-money valuation of more than $1 billion earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. Rival MongoDB raised $80 million in January 2015 and Datastax raised $104 million in Sept. 2014. Keep in mind: venture capitalists don't invest that heavily unless they see proven growth rates in the market.
- Revenue at Hortonworks, the Hadoop specialist, jumped 167 percent to $22.8 million in Q1 2015 vs. Q1 2014, the company announced last week. More than 100 new customers adopted the platform during quarter. Rival MapR entered 2015 with over 100 percent bookings growth and Cloudera said its fiscal 2015 revenues grew more than 100 percent to $100 million.
Still, it's unclear how many pure-play Hadoop and NoSQL companies actually generate profits amid their rapid growth. Hortonworks is publicly held and losing money. But most of the other key players remain privately held and therefore don't have to disclose net income. Moreover, most of the players currently favor growth -- a frantic land grab for market share -- over outright profits.
This Looks Somewhat Familiar
In some ways, the NoSQL and Hadoop markets resemble an earlier open source software wave: The early years of Linux -- when venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and software companies eagerly pumped time and/or money into distributions like Caldera, Canonical, Corel Linux, Red Hat, SUSE, VA Linux and more. Although Linux became a leading server operating system, multiple providers imploded amid the early market land grab.
Pundits expect the Hadoop and NoSQL markets to eventually consolidate amid mergers and acquisitions -- and perhaps even a few company implosions. There's also concern about startup valuations -- where some companies have earned Unicorn status because their lofty valuations exceed $1 billion or more.
No doubt, demand for Hadoop and NoSQL is growing. But the Gartner and Unisphere survey results offer a timely reminder that current customer adoption rates may not match the market hype.
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