Cloudera puts the Hadoop in Oracle’s Big Data Appliance

Oracle’s (s orcl) vaunted Big Data Appliance is now for sale, and it features Cloudera’s Hadoop distribution and management tools. Regardless of what anybody thinks about Oracle’s chances in the big data space, the deal is a coup for Cloudera as it tries to fend off competition from fellow Hadoop startups Hortonworks and MapR.

Oracle’s appliance-based entré into the big data space was met with the healthy dose of skepticism one expects when Oracle lumbers into a new, hip space with expensive proprietary gear. But there is little use questioning whether Oracle will sell enough of its new system to make the effort worthwhile. Even in a down second fiscal quarter for hardware overall, Oracle sold hundreds of its Exadata and Exalogic appliances, and it expects to sell even more in the coming quarters.

George Lumpkin, Oracle’s VP of product management, told me he thinks the company will do just fine selling its big data systems, because they complement the Exadata data warehouse and Exalytics business-intelligence appliances and customers want the full array of analytics capabilities. This is good news for Cloudera, because every system Oracle moves means one more sale of Cloudera’s Manager software and one more service contract.

The Oracle partnership also expands Cloudera’s growing ecosystem of hardware partners, which already include Dell (s dell) and NetApp.(s ntap) Having a large distribution channel will only help Cloudera as it tries to maintain its place as the king of Hadoop vendors. Hortonworks and MapR haven’t been around as long, but they are already making noise. The latter, in particular, is stirring the pot with an OEM deal with EMC. (s emc)

Cloudera CEO Mike Olson said the partnership is a natural fit because Cloudera and Oracle already have many joint customers who will now be able to integrate Hadoop into their mission-critical environments in a relatively natural manner. He added that the companies worked very closely not only on software compatibility but also on tuning the Big Data Appliance to run Hadoop. For example, it uses InfiniBand interconnects to address the need for fast movement of data between nodes.

However, Oracle isn’t blind to the fact that not everyone will be gung ho about buying an appliance. Its custom-built Big Data Connectors are available as separate products for those customers wanting to connect existing Hadoop clusters to Oracle database environments or R statistical-analysis environments.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Chika