Dell aims Cloudera-powered appliance at enterprise Hadoop users

New Cloudera Hadoop appliance uses in-memory processing and newest-generation data analysis tools

Dell today became the latest hardware vendor to tailor a solution specifically for Hadoop, the big data analysis framework that's practically become its own software ecosystem. Dell's appliance is being pitched as an in-memory acceleration solution that runs Cloudera's Hadoop distribution.

This latest addition is a strong sign that hardware vendors smell big money in Hadoop and will vie for Hadoop users as aggressively as they've sought Oracle users in the past. That one of Dell's other newly announced appliances is an Oracle 12C appliance further strengthens the parallel.

The new Dell In-Memory Appliance for Cloudera Enterprise uses Cloudera's distribution of Hadoop on top of Intel-based Dell hardware. Dell was cagey about the exact hardware configurations and costs for the appliance, saying only that it would "meet the needs of small and medium businesses, all the way up to the largest enterprises, and is more affordable than comparable products aimed at specific business sizes."

The secret sauce isn't just Dell's hardware. On the Cloudera side is a relatively new ingredient in the Hadoop recipe: Apache Spark, a high-speed data-analysis system. Spark relies on in-memory analysis for its speed and benefits from having hardware with more memory to throw at the problem.

Dell's choice of Cloudera over the other Hadoop distributions also makes sense. Cloudera has tried to differentiate itself by being an enterprise-friendly distribution, both because of how it has fashioned Hadoop as a one-stop depository for business data (an idea the company has pushed hard) and how it's built to be easier for enterprises to adopt with existing workloads.

Dell and Cloudera have collaborated in the past and know each other's territory well. Dell began selling Cloudera hardware bundles in 2011 using Dell PowerEdge C-series servers. Those bundles weren't cheap -- in the $120,000 range for a minimum of six compute nodes and six network switches -- but they formed part of a larger strategy whereupon Dell offered hardware, software, and support for major enterprise applications like Hadoop and the private cloud infrastructure system OpenStack.

Based on Dell 's other announcements today, it's likely the company believes there's a larger enterprise market for Hadoop than OpenStack -- at least for appliances. In addition to the aforementioned Oracle 12C appliance, other workload appliances unveiled include the Dell Acceleration Appliance for Databases and the Dell XC Series of Web-Scale Converged Appliance. The Hadoop and Oracle appliances are the only ones that are application-specific.

Dell plans many more appliances like this in the future under the general label of "Dell Engineered Systems for Cloudera Enterprise." Given that IDC is predicting 80 percent growth year over year for the Hadoop market, Dell and Cloudera have ample reason to pursue it.

This story, "Dell aims Cloudera-powered appliance at enterprise Hadoop users," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.