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Intel Announces Strategic Tie-Up With Cloudera, Including Investment

Intel throws its weight behind Hadoop's biggest player.

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Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker, and Cloudera, the biggest of the independent companies offering services around the open source big data software known as Hadoop, announced a strategic alliance today.

The deal includes what Intel describes as a “significant investment” in Cloudera — probably about $40 million, though VentureBeat suggests it may be as much as $90 million.

The deal also solves a mystery that cropped up last week when Cloudera announced a $160 million funding round led by T. Rowe Price, Google Ventures and Michael Dell’s MSD Capital. Published reports had said that Intel Capital, the chipmaker’s investment arm, was also going to participate in a funding round of about $200 million.

Under the deal, Intel will become Cloudera’s largest strategic shareholder and will take a seat on its board of directors. By my math, this investment boosts Cloudera’s total capital raised into the neighborhood of $340 million. Its investors include the venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Accel Partners, In-Q-Tel (the CIA’s investment arm), Ignition Partners and Meritech Capital Partners.

For its part, Cloudera will optimize its platform for Intel’s Xeon chips, which are running in something like 95 percent of most machines in data centers anyway. Intel will basically stop development on its own version of Hadoop, and its various tweaks will be integrated into Cloudera’s version. Intel will start promoting Cloudera’s versions to its customers.

The move caps what has been a very busy month in the world of Hadoop. On Tuesday, Hortonworks, the Hadoop company that spun out of Yahoo, announced a $100 million funding round of its own led by investment firm BlackRock. Also last week, Platfora, a company that helps Hadoop users make better use of their data, raised $38 million in a Series C led by Tenaya Capital.

Other players in the Hadoop ecosystem are Pivotal, a division of storage giant EMC, and MapR Technologies, a startup that has raised about $64 million in three rounds of funding.

Hadoop is an open-source technology that is loosely based on MapReduce, a data management technology that underlies a big portion of Google’s search. Companies pour big masses of data into Hadoop in order to make it manageable for analysis. It’s one of the enabling technologies behind the big-data craze affecting businesses right now. The idea is, if you just ask the right questions of the data your business gathers up in the course of its normal operations, you can find insights that can give you a competitive edge and that can either save you money or shine a light on places to make more money.

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