Hadoop is riding the hype wave right now. You’ll find many IT professionals who know just enough about Hadoop to be dangerous in a cocktail party setting, but not enough for their own comfort to respond to grilling from the chief technology officer or the geekier business executives.

If you’re slightly bewildered by all the buzz over this new technology with the funny-sounding moniker, you’re not alone. The official story is that Hadoop was the name of the inventor’s kid’s stuffed elephant. However, for most IT professionals, it could easily be an acronym for "Heck, Another Darn Obscure Open-source Project." The fact that Hadoop, managed by Apache, includes subprojects with similarly opaque names--such as Pig, Hive, Chukwa, and ZooKeeper—contributes to the queasy feeling that this is an untamed menagerie of squealing beasties.

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