Hortonworks Acquisition Boosts Hadoop's Security Credentials

Hadoop software developer Hortonworks has acquired XA Secure, a big data security and governance technology startup, in a move Hortonworks said will bring a centralized approach to security for Hadoop systems.

Hortonworks said it would immediately begin incorporating the XA Secure technology into its Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), the company's flagship big data software that's based on its distribution of the open source Apache Hadoop.

Solution providers said the move could speed Hadoop adoption among businesses for mainstream applications.

[Related: Cloudera, Hortonworks Move To Expand Their Partner Ecosystems ]

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"Hortonworks [is] investing in an industry-standard framework for comprehensive security access to data in Hadoop," said Rick Farnell, president of Think Big Analytics, a Mountain View, Calif.-based solution provider and Hortonworks partner that works with clients to leverage Hadoop for next-generation business applications. "The emphasis on data governance means the analytics and applications that rely on Hadoop are moving closer to business users and customer applications."

"Hadoop is moving beyond low-cost ETL processing use cases to become a key platform for enterprise analytics. It's great to see the market demand picking up across mainstream segments," Farnell said.

"XA Secure will play an instrumental role in our company's strategic vision for unlocking the potential of enterprise Hadoop," said Rob Bearden, CEO of Hortonworks, in a statement. "This move is consistent with our approach of delivering the enterprise capabilities that Hadoop users expect, completely in open source."

Hadoop is an open source framework for storage and distributed processing of large volumes of data across clusters of computers. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) governs the technology, and vendors like Hortonworks, Cloudera, MapR Technologies and others develop commercial software and services around it.

But as Hadoop becomes more widely adopted within corporate IT departments, security becomes a greater concern. XA Secure was founded in January 2013 to develop software that provides centralized data security, authorization, auditing and governance capabilities for Hadoop.

Currently, there's a patchwork of security technologies for Hadoop. The ASF's Apache Knox open source secure gateway technology provides identity authentication for Hadoop clusters, according to a chart on Hortonworks' website. But central security management and policy administration for Hadoop doesn't exist, according to the chart, while authentication and audit capabilities are fragmented and data protection is provided by third-party add-ons.

"The teams at Hortonworks and XA Secure saw the unique market opportunity to lead and build the right set of security intelligence and management capabilities into the fabric of the Hortonworks Data Platform," said Balaji Ganesan, founder and CEO of XA Secure, in a statement.

That resonates with Mark Fraser, sales executive vice president at T4G, a Toronto-based solution provider and Hortonworks partner. When pitching to potential customers, he sometimes has to convince skeptical risk managers about Hadoop's security.

"This allows us to answer those questions about security and data integrity," Fraser said. "As a channel partner, this would speed up the sales process."

Hortonworks plans to make the XA Secure technology available as HDP Security in late June, the company said, available for download and supported as part of the HDP Enterprise Plus subscription. The company also plans to contribute XA Secure's technology to the Apache Software Foundation as a new open-source community development project.

"Hortonworks' acquiring XA Secure and contributing to community open source is tremendous news for the Hadoop Community," said Think Big's Farnell.

"Opening up the [XA Secure] IP to the open source community is huge," Fraser agreed. "That means it's only going to get better."

Hortonworks did not disclose the terms of the acquisition.