Hadoop startup Continuuity has a new CEO

Continuuity Co-founder Todd Papaioannou (pictured above) has left the company, a move that puts Co-founder and Former CTO Jonathan Gray in the CEO spot. Papaioannou, who was previously VP and chief cloud architect at Yahoo (s yhoo) and has held executive positions at Teradata (s tdc) and Greenplum, departed for personal reasons several weeks ago but remains on as an adviser.

Jonathan Gray Continuuity Structure Data 2013
Jonathan Gray at Structure: Data 2013 (c) Albert Chau

This is Gray’s first foray into business leadership, having come to Continuuity from Facebook where he was one of the company’s primary HBase engineers. He acknowledged the change was a bit overwhelming at first, having to get his hands around everything that a CEO has to do, but he’s now locked in on the primary goal of growing the company.

Besides, Gray noted, the CEO transition was handled in a very coordinated and orderly manner, with Papaioannou and Continuuity’s investors, customers, and team all supportive and involved in the process. He has his own set of confidants and advisers as well, including WebLogic founder Paul Ambrose.

Continuuity’s overall strategy remains the same, Gray said. The company’s mission has always been to create something akin to a Platform as a Service for big data developers within companies, and that’s still the plan. It has been available in beta since late February, and is shooting for general availability by the year’s end with a production-grade release before then. (Although, because Continuuity relies on the Apache YARN framework to deliver its real-time and other capabilities on top of Hadoop — it has even open sourced a programming model for YARN called Weave — the company’s fate is somewhat tied to the pace of YARN within Apache.)

Continuuity’s next release will include a few pre-packaged applications for content recommendations, anomaly detection and streaming analytics.

Thus far, some of Continuuity’s primary customers have been Fortune 500 — even Fortune 50 — businesses trying to whittle their numerous Hadoop environments into a single fabric on top of which developers in different divisions can build applications. Other customers, Gray said, are the ones you might expect: web, gaming, online advertising and digital media companies trying to grow their Hadoop usage beyond batch processes and single applications.

However, its customer base has forced a bit of change in Continuuity’s strategy — namely a shift in focus from offering a cloud service to offering on-premises software (although a hosted version is still available). In fact, Gray said, customers are running such dense hardware configurations that Continuuity itself had to move its test clusters from the cloud to the physical servers in order to test its software against those same configurations.

But generally speaking, Gray said, “We’ve been doing really well. The path we’ve been on is the path we’re going to stay on.”

Here is Papaioannou discussing the vision and demonstrating Continuuity at Structure: Data in March.