A few days in every technology analyst’s life produce a holy crap moment. One of those days was today when Intel decided to play kingmaker and pushed Big Data analytics startup Cloudera into the forefront of its segment, at least in terms of mindshare. I’ve known Cloudera’s CEO, Tom Reilly, who used to run HP’s security organization, for some time. I’ve always been impressed with him and he sure didn’t disappoint this week. Let’s talk a bit about what makes this move kind of amazing.
The Significance of Analytics
Cloudera is a small company in an increasingly crowded field largely made up of technology giants, all chasing what may be the most revolutionary change in both technology and management since the creation of the computer: analytics. What makes this type of tool so incredibly powerful is that it changes the way managers manage. Once implemented and understood, these tools provide an intelligence-based foundation for decisions, removing risk and increasing the effectiveness of the firm’s management. It is my belief that analytics, used properly, will differentiate firms that survive and prosper in this decade from those that won’t. In terms of class of product, short of a project to make people immortal, this is the most powerful area of technology to be in from the standpoint of not only company survival but survival of the race (it has great applicability to both health and major areas of conflict like global warming).
That’s why any major move here has my attention. It’s big.
Intel remains the most powerful single technology vendor in the market. It makes the brains that go into most of the machines used to analyze information. It may not be the trendiest, but from the standpoint of resources and footprint, it remains the most powerful and can be a kingmaker. Even though I’ve followed Intel for decades, I’ve never actually seen it perform that role. The company tends to be more like Switzerland, helping everyone that works with it but not choosing to put its power behind any one vendor exclusively, let alone a pre-public company.
That’s what makes today’s announcement so incredible. And it isn’t just lip service; Intel is putting its massive engineering capabilities behind this effort and deploying Cloudera as a broad standard internally. This is about as strategic as it gets. The company wants Hadoop to run best on Intel and is making Cloudera the critical path to that strategic effort. In effect, it instantly took Cloudera, in terms of resources and capabilities, from startup to contender for market leader with one swipe of the pen.
Wrapping Up: A Huge Investment and a Huge Opportunity
If you want evidence that Intel has changed, this is exhibit number one. It intends to be the leader in this space and is assuring that position with Cloudera and a huge investment in cash, commitment and engineering resources. I do think this puts Cloudera on a short path to either IPO or acquisition because its value as a company just went vertical. It also gives the firm the backing it needs to be a true enterprise provider because with Intel behind it, the company can be trusted to execute. I imagine a number of folks in this space today, like me, are having a moment. Holy crap …