Early adopters of Hadoop such as Yahoo, AOL, Google and others have been using Hadoop to store and analyze petabytes of unstructured data. Other enterprise data warehouse technologies have not been able to easily handle such tasks.
Gartner analyst Merv Adrian said Microsoft's alliance with Hortonworks is not surprising.
"Every leading database vendor needs to ensure that customers who want to exploit Big Data don't move any more of their share of wallet away than necessary," he said, "[The] only question was whether they would go it alone or align with someone."
The partnership is a big plus for Hortonworks, which has a very deep pool of experts in the Apache Hadoop yechnology, he said.
Hortonworks, spun out of Yahoo earlier this year, is "fresh out of the blocks" Adrian said.
Cloudera is the current market leader in commercial Hadoop systems, he said.
"It's likely that many Microsoft customers starting to think about Big Data for the first time won't have heard much about [Hortonworks]," Adrian said. "This gives Hortonworks a nice visibility bump."
A Hadoop distribution for Windows should appeal to users with substantial Windows investments, said Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with Red Monk.
"Hadoop has crossed the chasm, so to speak, and become a mainstream technology product," he said.
"As such, it's obviously important that Microsoft have a competitive implementation available for its platform," O'Grady said. "It's clear that Microsoft feels optimization and tuning for the platform is important to ensure its success and to differentiate."
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan , or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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