Is Cloudera the Next Oracle? CEO Mike Olson Hopes So

11/4/10

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Yahoo. A fourth co-founder, Christophe Bisciglia from Google, has left Cloudera, while Doug Cutting, who led the team that built Hadoop at Yahoo, joined last year.

Accel Partners invested $5 million in Cloudera when it launched––just as the financial markets were tanking—and the company raised another $6 million from Greylock in 2009, and the $25 million last week. Cloudera now has several large customers, including eBay and JPMorgan Chase.

“We don’t really need the money,” Olson says, “but there are tactical and strategic reasons to raise it, and strong interest from investors…Now I can afford to hire before I need people, and if I look around and see interesting technology, I can make small strategic acquisitions. There’s nothing planned, but it’s added options.”

But is Oracle the company for Cloudera to emulate? Even Oracle––along with Cisco, HP, Dell, and EMC––is vulnerable to the sweeping changes that cloud computing will create over the next decade, said Mark Leslie, a lecturer in management at Stanford Business School and the founding chairman and CEO of Veritas. Leslie was speaking Wednesday at the VentureWire FASTech conference in Redwood City, CA.

All these companies “are competing to build a vertical stack, and I think the cloud profoundly disrupts that,” Leslie said. “Ten years ago the pre-eminent server was the Sun Starfire 10000, and it’s gone. Everybody buys dense, small packed chips, and I think the same thing happens in networking, storage, and security.” And, Leslie added, these new solutions may come from entirely new vendors.

But Olson says he’s worked with open source software for two decades, and Hadoop to him is a milestone. It’s the first time that open source software has been used to create something new instead of just commoditizing an existing market, making “an expensive, well engineered knock-off and [giving] it away,” he says.

Other new companies like Karmasphere and Datameer are also springing up to fill holes in Hadoop, and Cloudera is forming partnerships with them along with more established players like Informatica. “We believe this platform will be as successful as the relational database was in the early ‘80s, back in the day when radical new technology was needed,” Olson says. “Oracle and IBM and companies like Ingres all invested energy in making that platform reliable and let [independent software vendors] and [original equipment manufacturers] build the apps, and that’s what we’re trying to do now.”

Deborah Gage is a technology writer based in the Bay Area. Follow @

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  • Anne

    Are Individual investors of interest?