Silicon Valley’s Hortonworks eyes India’s big data market

Smelling opportunties:Arun Murthy (R), co-founder of Hortonworks, with Kamal Brar, vice president, Asia Pacific, Hortonworks.

Smelling opportunties:Arun Murthy (R), co-founder of Hortonworks, with Kamal Brar, vice president, Asia Pacific, Hortonworks.  

Hortonworks Inc. stunned the tech industry a few years ago when it became the fastest enterprise software start-up to reach $100 million in annual revenue in just four years from inception. The California-based company said that it now saw its next big growth coming from international business and the Indian market is going to play a key role in it. It is betting big on selling its services and support for the Hadoop open-source data analytics technology framework to the Indian enterprises as well as government’s big data projects like the ID platform Aadhaar.

“We have captured a significant amount of market in North America,” Arun Murthy, the 35-year-old co-founder and vice president for engineering at Hortonworks, said in an interview. “I think a lot of our growth would come internationally and India would be a key part of that.”

The firm leads a bunch of companies that are pursuing the opportunity to monetise Hadoop, an open source software platform for distributed storage and processing of very large data sets on computer clusters built from commodity hardware. Hadoop was built at Yahoo! in the mid-2000s to help the Internet portal compete with Google.

Origins at Yahoo!

In 2011, serial entrepreneur Rob Bearden partnered with Yahoo! to establish Hortonworks with 24 engineers from the original Hadoop team including founders like Alan Gates and Arun Murthy. The original developer of Hadoop, Doug Cutting, who named the platform after his son’s yellow stuffed toy elephant, works at Cloudera, which is Hortonwork’s rival.

Prior to co-founding Hortonworks, Mr. Murthy, an alumnus of Visvesvaraya Technological University was responsible for all MapReduce code and configuration deployed across more than 42,000 servers at Yahoo!. MapReduce, which is the core component of Hadoop, is the original framework for writing applications that process large amounts of data.

In 2014, Hortonworks’ market capitalisation exceeded $1 billion in an initial public offering. But the market cap has now come down to about $662 million. To bolster its growth, Hortonworks is now eyeing opportunities in the Indian market as well as to hire talent here. This month, it opened a larger office in Bengaluru which houses the company’s engineering and support teams, in addition to the India sales team.

“The consumption (of data) in this market, with Digital India, is phenomenal,” said Kamal Brar, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Hortonworks. He said customers in India were already using Hadoop especially in sectors such as e-commerce and telecommunications. The government too was open to adopting such open-source technologies, he said. “That is proven with Aadhaar, digital locker and now the payment gateways coming through the demonetisation move,” said Mr. Brar.

Eightfold growth

The big data industry in the country is expected to grow eightfold to touch $16 billion by 2025 from the present size of $2 billion, according to the IT trade body NASSCOM.

Globally, Hortonworks provides its platform to customers such as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), healthcare organisation Mayo Clinic, online retailer eBay and digital music service Spotify.

The platform would enable customers in India to run big data analytics technology to mine hidden insights, patterns and unknown correlations from large chunks of data.

This helps scientists to speed up drug discovery, farmers to increase yields, exploration companies to discover oil and e-commerce companies to predict customer behaviour.

For example, UNOS, the private, non-profit organisation managing the U.S. organ transplant system, is using the Hortonworks Data Platform to help transplant professionals make more informed decisions when life-saving organs become available.

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