Summary:

It was a big year for NoSQL and big data, but now those vendors need to buckle down on their revenue models and make a head-on charge to the enterprise. Because, let’s face it; while the web leads the innovation, the enterprise leads the economy.

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Big data and NoSQL solutions received welcome attention this year from developers and investors alike. The rallying cry of “No SQL” appears to have been tempered to include “Not Only SQL”, adding a degree of civility to an often heavily charged debate. Now big data and NoSQL vendors need to buckle down on their revenue models and make a head-on charge to the enterprise.

Let’s face it; while the web leads the innovation, the enterprise leads the economy. While it was absolutely necessary for a number of high-profile web companies to spearhead the adoption of big data and NoSQL — think Google and Yahoo with Big Table and MapReduce, or Facebook with Cassandra — it is time to explore larger and more repeatable markets with mainstream businesses in the U.S. and around the world.

We looked at who is commercializing big data over the summer, but just recently, we’ve seen both large and small amounts of money raised to direct these efforts. Cloudera, the Hadoop poster child, recently raised $25 million dollars, and according to the company, “The funding will be used to further invest in product development and services to support growth and adoption of Hadoop by enterprise organizations.”

A smaller investment of $2.7 million was announced by Riptano, the company supporting Apache Cassandra, one of the standout software projects to emerge in the NoSQL arena. Though not as direct in its enterprise marketing approach as Cloudera, Riptano offers the professional services, training, and support that I believe are likely to win it more enterprise business over time.

As an API for cloud storage is not enough to win enterprise adoption, a whole class of cloud storage gateway startups has spawned as a result, and I believe we’ll see similar handholding emerge around Big Data and NoSQL. Witness the expanding partner ecosystem around Cloudera, the vendor with the most magical Hadoop dust, or Riptano’s efforts with QuestCommenting in an article, Matt Pfeil, CEO of Riptano said, “We’ve been surprised to discover much higher use of Cassandra within traditional enterprises than we anticipated.”

So what’s needed to spur more enterprise adoption? Time, for one thing. These new approaches to solving problems need to settle in with architects and developers as they conceptualize new solutions. Earlier this week, leaders from many NoSQL companies gathered for a large panel discussion well summarized by Todd Hoff of High Scalability. His notes include a few “what’s next” steps that fit hand-in-hand with enterprise adoption, including reducing barriers to entry, building features to compete with more established products, and scaling support.

We’ve come a long way in the maturity of new big data and NoSQL solutions, as well as in our understanding of when and where they fit. No doubt we have far to go, but the companies that can match these new approaches with clear and simple enterprise use cases are the ones likely to prosper.

Gary Orenstein is host of The Cloud Computing Show.

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