Big Data Boost: Open Data Platform Initiative Unites 15 Tech Giants

A consortium of 15 diverse companies launched an initiative Tuesday aiming to define a core platform that will enable faster development and wider enterprise adoption of big data projects.

The Open Data Platform, according to the founding members, is an industry association assembled to promote open-source data initiatives, particularly those revolving around the Hadoop analytics framework.

Several Open Data Platform members discussed the project Tuesday in a conference call. They hailed their collaboration as one that will advance cloud-scale analytics through collaboration and innovation, a boon to developers and end users alike.

[Related: Sources: Pivotal Laying Off 60 Employees, Mostly On Big Data Side Of Business]

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Joining Pivotal in the Platinum tier of the project's membership are IBM, Infosys, Hortonworks, SAS, GE and an international telecom soon to be named. In the Gold tier are Verizon, Teradata, Altiscale, Splunk, CenturyLink, Capgemini, EMC and VMware.

Those companies, and more they expect to join as the project gains momentum, will develop a common set of APIs and version controls by which they envision an ecosystem growing under Apache licensing governance.

Leo Spiegel, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Pivotal, said on the call that the project represents a shared industry effort to create "a stable basis by which big data solutions can be targeted."

The members will develop tools and methods that enable them to build and test differentiated offerings all sharing the common kernel, minimizing the kind of fragmentation and duplication that is holding back Hadoop adoption.

"Any organization is welcome and encouraged to join us on this journey to help accelerate the big data market and meet the needs of all its constituents," Spiegel said.

Shaun Connolly, vice president of corporate strategy at Hortonworks, said the Hadoop contributor has learned the best way to develop data initiatives is to take an open-source approach.

Raymie Stata, founder and CEO of AltiScale, was an early evangelist for Hadoop in his days as CTO of Yahoo. Stata said the Open Data Platform is necessary to advance enterprise adoption of Hadoop solutions, which require multiple open-source components to work successfully together.

The project will address the problems of interoperability and robustness through the standard core, he said.

The Open Data Platform "coordinates the effort of great engineers from around the world," Stata said. It will "bring benefits of Hadoop to a broader range of customers than ever before."

Rob Thomas, vice president of analytics at IBM, touted Big Blue's "long history with open source and Apache."

"What I've heard from clients is they're clamoring for standards, along with great open-source innovation we get from Apache, so this is a great opportunity for the entire ecosystem," Thomas said.

The 15 founding companies are to begin drafting a governance process and bylaws by which they will operate. That process will take a few months, they said.

Pivotal's Spiegel said CIOs are clamoring for open-source solutions, viewing that collaborative methodology as a new standard for development.

"[The Open Data Platform] wants to provide an opportunity for everyone to have a conversation about what is important for big data, where should big data go," Spiegel said, adding enterprises are looking for market maturation before they commit to Hadoop solutions.

Pivotal has seen success of late spearheading the Cloud Foundry open-source PaaS project.

But the San Francisco-based developer, a spinoff from EMC and VMware, also just laid off dozens of employees, most of whom were working on its big data projects.

Concurrent with the news about the Open Data Platform, Pivotal revealed plans to open-source its big data products, including the Greenplum and GemFire databases and its Hadoop distribution, Pivotal HD.