Cloudera: The Story of a Unicorn

“Like all tech start-ups, Cloudera was founded to solve a big problem in the real world enteprise IT.  We help customers maximize on what big data can do for them,” says Amr Awadallah, CTO and co-founder, Cloudera. The eight year old Silicon Valley company Cloudera is a unicorn with a valuation of more than $4B,. Cloudera is an enterprise software company that delivers a modern data management and analytics platform built on Apache Hadoop and the latest open source technologies.

Born at the cusp of cloud, social computing,  and big data revolutions, Cloudera’s story is interesting. Cloudera created the market for opensource-based data management and analytics platform to solve some of enterprise IT’s biggest data management, large scale BI, and analytics problems.

Amr served as Vice President of Product Intelligence Engineering at Yahoo. He had joined Yahoo after they acquired his first startup, VivaSmart, in July of 2000. Amr was tasked with developing an intelligent search functionality for Yahoo, presumably to compete with Google. While working on large scale BI and analytics at Yahoo, Amr faced several problems with performance, costs, scale, and flexibility arising out of legacy platforms like Microstrategy, IBM, and Oracle.

Doug Cutting, a Yahoo colleague and former chairman of Apache Software Foundation who wrote the initial Hadoop software in 2004, asked him to try Hadoop.

Amr Awadallah, CTO and Co-Founder, Cloudera

Amr Awadallah, CTO and Co-Founder, Cloudera

Amr went to work to try out Hadoop and over the next two years, he managed to cut the data processing pipeline and do things ten times cheaper than before. Thus, Amr was not only convinced about the performance and economics of Hadoop, but he also managed to tackle new types of analytical questions.

There were many other enterprises who were facing the same problems in BI and analytics as Amr did. Hadoop emerged as the answer.

It was time to challenge the status quo. A new tech company was waiting to be born, the founders pitched the idea to Accel Partners, got the first round of funding.

Cloudera was founded by engineers from three marquee Internet companies- Amr Awadallah from Yahoo, Christophe Bisciglia from Google, Jeff Hammerbacher from Facebook and a former Oracle executive Mike Olson, who had created the embedded database, Berkeley DB that was bought out by Oracle.

Doug Cutting soon joined Cloudera in 2009 and is now the chief architect at Cloudera with Amr taking on the CTO role.

Helping Conquer Data

Today, Cloudera delivers the modern data management and analytics platform built on Apache Hadoop and the latest open source technologies, has 1400 people, and enjoys a valuation of US$4.1 billion which makes it a unicorn. Cloudera helps customers maximize on what big data can do for them, says Amr. He details out the value proposition for Cloudera that it helps companies efficiently capture, store, process and analyze vast amounts of data, empowering them to use advanced analytics to drive business decisions quickly, flexibly and at lower cost than has been possible before.

Data management and analytics are now mainstream in enterprise IT. CIOs have to deal with questions such as how can we deal with big data, how do we go beyond SQL, how do we do data management and analytics on the cheap.

Cloudera calls itself a technology designed for handling both current challenges in data management and handling future web-scale data-led workloads. Amr calls it Database 2.0, and more so,  with IoT the world needing a new database to handle sensor-based networks.

In terms of business use cases, Amr identifies three that specifically stand out: customer 360, unified customer view, personalization, and experience management; improving products and services using data; and lowering risk through cybersecurity and fraud detection analytics.

Transforming Customer Experience at Airtel

Cloudera Use Case for Telcos

Cloudera Use Case for Telcos

In 2016,  Airtel, one of India’s largest telecom companies, used Cloudera to build a 360-degree view of customers on Hadoop-based platform for successful omni-channel campaigns to improve customer experience and product personalization.

Communications service providers (CSPs) are amongst the world’s biggest aggregators of consumer information and have to keep pace in order to gain insights into their customers’ preferences and networks. Many CSPs, like Airtel, are utilizing Cloudera Enterprise to securely bring together user, network, device, business and social data to drive customer intimacy, improve network performance and drive new revenue streams.

Validating Cloudera’s value proposition in the Airtel case, Amr says, “With Cloudera Enterprise now at the core of Airtel’s information architecture, the massive volumes of data are in a centralized location, across formats, and available to all business users and groups, with full fidelity and security, but at a lower capital expenditure per terabyte compared to traditional data management mechanisms.”

Airtel is Cloudera’s largest customer in India as of now, but Amr sees huge potential for Cloudera in the Indian market led by government, BFSI, and telecom segments.

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