Microsoft on Hadoop, Openness: Yes, We're Serious
The SQL Server world was abuzz lately with last week's announcement that Microsoft was discontinuing its LINQ to HPC (high performance computing) "big data" project in favor of supporting the open source Apache Hadoop in Windows Server and Windows Azure.
This was an interesting development in the larger context of Microsoft's turn-around embrace of the open source world and many who have questioned its motives and commitment (remember long-ago headlines such as "Microsoft raps open-source approach"?).
But if Denny Lee is representative of Microsoft's motives and commitment, it seems pretty genuine to me. Check out the blog he posted earlier this week, "What's so BIG about 'Big Data'?"
"We are diving deeper into the world of Big Data by embracing and contributing to the open source community and Hadoop," Lee said. And under a heading of "Openness - yes, we're serious about it!", he said "A key aspect is openness and our commitment to give back to the Open Source community." He then talks about Microsoft's participation in last week's "ultimate open source conference," ApacheCon North America 2011.
Lee said Hadoop is important to his Customer Advisory Team because "it is important for our customers," which may sound like marketing-speak, but he notes "we work on some of the most complex Tier-1 Enterprise SQL Server implementations" and goes on to discuss technical aspects of projects such as Yahoo's "largest known cube."
Lee explained more on his personal blog about why he left the BI world to so enthusiastically embrace open source: "It's about the openness of the Open Source community (apologies for the pun) that allows us to focus on solving the actual problem instead of trying to understand how a particular system works."
So say what you will about Microsoft and its marketing strategies, it looks to me like the company has some good people who are doing good work to solve problems that affect real-world users, regardless of the technology used. Sure, it might be a matter of survival in the new IT world, but if it benefits you, take it and run.
What do you think about Hadoop? Comment here or drop me a line.
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.