As is often the case recently, I was having a conversation with colleagues back at HP towers about Hadoop and in particular the maturing market for an Hadoop appliance. The context was how clients gain benefit from an appliance but simultaneously from a consulting roadmap, given that an appliance is somewhat baked already (and here’s the start of the food analogy). At this point I got up from my desk, and wandered off in search of the Consulting “big brains” that keep this particular marketer informed and honest. The big brain I found was Rick Peterson, and he likened combining an appliance with consulting as akin to a food blender. “How so?” I asked, knowing Rick wouldn’t be able to resist, and so it began….

“An Hadoop cluster is much like a food processor,” he said. “It’s capable of processing all sorts of things and producing amazing combinations for meals, but out of the box it can be a bit complex and requires both a chef with a vision of what the outcome will be and a sous chef  who can operate it sufficiently, blending the various things you put into it to help deliver on the vision.  Not everything that comes out of the food processor is the completed product, but the food processor allows you to bring together various kinds of ingredients and help build the basis of some fairly sophisticated meals.  No chef, no sous chef, no delivery of the vision.  The chef is the data scientist and the sous chef may be some combination of data engineers and operations staff.”

He was now on a role with his food analogy – it was close to lunch, and we all know Technology Consultants need feeding. He continued. “The other interesting thing about using a food processor is that to make a lot of food you usually don’t use bigger and bigger food processors, you divide the work into batches and process them in parallel to process and produce the desired quantities within the limitations of how many sous chefs with food processors you can have in the kitchen at the same time.  You produce more and faster by breaking the work up into manageable pieces and make maximum use of all the resources and space you have at your disposal.”

So there we have it, Rick Peterson, the Gordon Ramsey of Hadoop

 As for the Roadmap Service I talked of earlier – it predates having to consider how it works with an appliance. It was created at a time when customers weren’t getting a lot of configuration information and the infant mortality of POCs and pilots was high.  The market has matured beyond early adopter over the past 14 months. So now we get the best of both worlds from it

– At works for those that have already made a decision to go with Hadoop, and helps sizing and configuring of their first cluster, and understanding the impact of introducing Hadoop and its operations into their organization. 

– At the same time the service helps the customer through the thought process of what their initial goals are for Hadoop, helps them decide on a configuration based up HP’s reference architecture – be that some combination of appliance and additional cluster configuration, straight appliance, or straight reference architecture – and then provide them with a Roadmap that includes what we recommend they do from a people, process as well as technology planning standpoint. 

So there we have it, roadmap consulting and a reference architecture or appliance in one. Who’d have known when appliance was mentioned, it conjured up images of a food appliance!