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Former Hortonworks leader named new Cloudera CEO

Cloudera finds a new leader, pulling the former CEO of Hortonworks back into the fold to help set the direction for the big data Hadoop vendor as it moves forward in 2020.

After months of searching, big data pioneer Cloudera found its new CEO, Rob Bearden, the former CEO of the vendor's former chief rival.

The new Cloudera CEO, whose hiring was revealed Jan. 13, was formerly CEO of Hortonworks, which merged with Cloudera in January 2019.

Since July 2019, the big data vendor has been led by interim CEO Marty Cole, who took the role after former CEO Tom Reilly left after weak financial results for the first quarter of 2019. Those financials were partially a result of costs stemming from Cloudera's merger with old rival Hortonworks.

Rob BeardenRob Bearden

The merger of the two vendors came as the overall market for Hadoop-based big data technologies has slowed.

Hadoop is an open source platform for enabling big data analysis and processing, but it also somewhat complex and resource-intensive to operate and maintain. Other vendors in the Hadoop ecosystem have not fared well either.

MapR, at one time a major competitor to both Cloudera and Hortonworks, struggled for several years and had its assets acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in August 2019.

Cloudera CEO Rob Bearden knows the market

Gartner analyst Merv Adrian said he has a somewhat positive view of Bearden's appointment to the Cloudera CEO role.

"Continuity is well served. Rob Bearden never left the board and has been in the mix throughout this transition," Adrian said. "He knows the team, the products and the market. That should minimize the disruption."

Filling the post reduces what was perceived as a risk factor for Cloudera, Adrian said.

Meanwhile, a big question is why it took six months for Bearden to be named Cloudera CEO.

Continuity is well served; Rob never left the board and has been in the mix throughout this transition. He knows the team, the products and the market. That should minimize the disruption.
Merv AdrianAnalyst, Gartner

As it turns out, Bearden, 52, has been quite busy. He left Cloudera after the Hortonworks acquisition was completed and was briefly CEO of container vendor Docker, from May to November 2019.

Cloudera heading in open source direction

While the search for a new CEO had been going on for some time, Cloudera has not been quiet otherwise. Over the course of 2019 the company unveiled a new open source direction that follows a strategy that Hortonworks had taken before the merger.

Until the Hortonworks merger, Cloudera contributed to open source projects and then it also had commercially licensed products. With the new open source direction, all of Cloudera's products are open source licensed, with commercial support available.

Beyond just growing organically with open source efforts, Cloudera bolstered its portfolio in September 2019 by acquiring assets from big data analytics vendor Arcadia Data.

The culmination of Cloudera's strategy last year manifested itself in September 2019 with the release of the company's Cloudera Data Platform, providing users with a suite of capabilities for big data management and analysis in the cloud.

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