Intel's investment in Cloudera is said to be big enough to make the chipmaker the company's single largest strategic shareholder. The semiconductor company will have a seat on the board of directors of Cloudera, which could go public this year in order to benefit from the favorable IPO environment in U.S. markets. Intel will also promote Cloudera's products, which means the chipmaker will abandon its original project of developing and selling its customized big-data platform.
By replacing its own big-data project with Cloudera's solutions, Intel may be indirectly recognizing that Cloudera's main product, Hadoop for enterprises, is the future of big data. Hadoop, an open-source project originally developed by Yahoo, has quickly become one of the most popular frameworks for handling big data, due to its flexibility -- any programming language can be used with Hadoop -- robustness, and compatibility with high-performance computing environments. Using a creative algorithm, Hadoop is able to take advantage of huge clusters of computers to produce fast results for queries on big data sets by breaking them into parts.
Note that like Red Hat, Cloudera is committed to continue developing Hadoop as open-source software. The company generates revenue by selling Cloudera Manager, a subscription-based Hadoop support service. It also provides Cloudera Enterprise, a Hadoop-based platform that combines the basic version of Hadoop with a number of other open-source apps for big data.
By investing in Cloudera, Intel could benefit from capital gains, as the company is expected to soon go public. More important, Intel could sell its high-end Xeon server processors together with Cloudera's big-data solutions, in order to improve sales performance. The company's focus on server solutions -- both at the software and hardware level -- are a way to cope with poor sales related to chips for personal computers.
Cloudera faces fierce competition from players such as Hortonworks and MapR. Each of them have different approaches to monetizing Hadoop. Hortonworks, founded with $23 million from Yahoo! and Benchmark Capital, has developed its own Hadoop distribution, called Hortonworks Data Platform. Surprisingly, the Yahoo!-backed company made its version available by free download. Instead of selling its product directly to enterprises, the company makes money through annual subscription services and educational services. Annual subscriptions make up roughly 70% of Hortonworks' total revenue.
Intel just became the single largest strategic shareholder in Cloudera. As an early mover and important contributor to the Hadoop open-source project, Cloudera is a market leader in big data. By experimenting with several cross-selling opportunities, like selling hardware optimized for Cloudera's big-data solutions, Intel's strategic investment in Cloudera could allow the chipmaker to improve sales from its server division.