Hortonworks and Microsoft bring open-source Hadoop to Windows

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There’s probably no better way to open up big data to the masses than making it accessible and manipulatable — if that’s a word — via Microsoft Excel. And that ability gets closer to reality Monday with the beta release of Hortonworks Data Platform for Windows. The product of a year-old collaboration between Hortonworks and Microsoft is now downloadable.  General availability will come later in the second quarter, said Shawn Connolly, Hortonworks’ VP of corporate strategy,  in an interview.

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The combination should  make it easier to integrate data from SQL Server and Hadoop and to funnel all that into Excel for charting and pivoting and all the tasks Excel is good at, Connolly added.

He stressed that this means the very same Apache Hadoop distribution will run on Linux and Windows. An analogous Hortonworks Data Platform for Windows Azure is still in the works.

Microsoft opted to work with Hortonworks rather than to continue its own “Dryad” project, as GigaOM’s Derrick Harris reported a year ago. Those with long memories will recall this isn’t the first time that Microsoft relied on outside expertise for database work. The guts of early SQL Server came to the company via Sybase.

The intersection of structured SQL and  unstructured Hadoop universes is indeed a hotspot, as Derrick Harris reported last week, with companies including Hadoop rivals Cloudera and EMC Greenplum all working that fertile terrain. That means Hortonworks/Microsoft face stiff competition. This topic, along with real-time data tracking, will be discussed at GigaOM’s Structure Data conference in New York on March 20-21.

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