Stealth startup Platfora wants to do Hadoop for the rest of us

Ben Werther, Todd Papaioannou, Dwight Merriman, Mike Hoskins and Awadallah talk enterprise Hadoop at Structure: Data 2011

Werther (far left) at our Structure Big Data conference

For anyone concerned about the difficulty of doing advanced analytics tasks with Hadoop, the answer might be just around the corner. A stealth-mode Palo Alto, Calif.–based startup called Platfora is working to make Hadoop usable even for the non-data scientists among us.

According to the details available on its website, Platfora is working on software that will let users do new kinds of processing with Hadoop via an “intuitive and beautiful user experience.” It will provide “data science for mortals — questions and exploration rather than walls of math.” All of this sounds great, but it will be awhile until we see what Platfora has up its sleeve: Founder and CEO Ben Werther told me the company isn’t releasing details right now but should have more to say in the three-to-six-month time frame.

Werther was formerly the VP of products at DataStax, a startup software and services company dedicated to the Cassandra NoSQL database. At our Structure Big Data conference in March, DataStax launched its own Hadoop distribution that seeks to provide a more real-time analytics experience for web applications by replacing the Hadoop Distributed File System with Cassandra.

As for Platfora’s mission, burying the complexity of Hadoop underneath layers of abstraction is nothing new. Datameer, Hadapt, IBM and others all have their own unique approaches for letting users take advantage of Hadoop processing without having to worry about the steep learning curves around MapReduce and cluster management. They’re all fine approaches, but in such a new space, there’s plenty of room for innovation, which has me very interested to see what Platfora is up to.

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