Cloudera Brings Hadoop to the Desktop

Until now, most users of the open source Hadoop data storage and processing platform have relied on a command-line interface to manage their application.

That changes today with the initial release of the Cloudera Desktop, which provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for Hadoop.

Cloudera is one of the lead commercial backers behind Hadoop, and sees its own commercial future in applications as well as services. Unlike Hadoop, which is available under an open source license, the Cloudera Desktop is proprietary software, though it is available as a free download.

“We need there to be a large Hadoop install base,” Cloudera CEO Mike Olson told “We think Cloudera Desktop makes Hadoop vastly easier to work with, as existing installations are used to command-line APIs, but we think the desktop will make them more productive in some cases. If you’re a new Hadoop user you’ll find it much easier to get started with desktop than otherwise.”

Cloudera has been offering a commercially supported version of Hadoop since March of 2009. Hadoop is used by a number of major IT companies, including Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Facebook.

With the new Cloudera Desktop, users will receive four related applications to manage Hadoop. The applications include a file browser, a job designer, a job browser and a cluster health dashboard for monitoring a Hadoop cluster.

Olson pitched the new desktop GUI as an important step in Hadoop’s development.

“The key observation is that Hadoop to date has not had a good interface like this for building applications and interacting with a cluster,” Olson said. “The way you’ve done it is to find someone that is an outstanding computer scientist and turn them loose with a command-line tool. Because of that, Hadoop has not been as widely adopted as we believe it ought to be and we think we will now enable that adoption.”

By enabling Hadoop adoption through the new Cloudera Desktop, Olson said his company hopes to become the primary vendor for Hadoop deployments.

Free but not open

Olson explained that Cloudera’s business model prevented the firm from making its Desktop available as an open source offering.

At the same time, he said expressed support for the open source movement, and said that Cloudera contributes extensively to Hadoop’s open source core.

“In order to build a business and in order to make enough money to fund the contributions that we make to the open source core and to pay back our investors, we want to have a licensing revenue stream,” Olson said.

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