When Cloudera first launched the Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop I wrote: “I’ve typically been down on a support or services-based open source business. However, in the case of Cloudera, this model makes sense — for now.”

Since writing that in March, the string of open source vendors shifting away from selling support to selling products, sometimes under the guise of subscriptions, has marched onward.  I’m happy to report that Cloudera is following the product path with today’s beta release of Cloudera Desktop.

Simply put, Cloudera Desktop makes Hadoop easier to use and manage. This is how Cloudera Desktop was described in the press release, and after watching the demo, I couldn’t find a more apt description.

Data that enterprises collect daily is critical to business decisions.  However, there’s a problem.  Waiting for IT developers to write analysis algorithms to process the data is sometimes suboptimal, especially for smaller and less complex analysis jobs.  This is especially true as business analysts are increasingly savvy at writing scripts.  That’s where Cloudera Desktop steps in.

Cloudera Desktop is targeted at not only developers and administrators, but also business analysts.  Opening up the power of Hadoop to non-developers serves to increase the utility of Hadoop in the enterprise.  Clearly business analysts will not be able to design algorithms to process complex data analysis tasks, so the need for Hadoop developers and developer tools does not disappear.  But the broad scale success of Hadoop and Cloudera in the enterprise rides on the coattails of business users, not developers.

To really hit it out of the park, Cloudera will have to make it even easier for business analysts to use Hadoop.  Pre-canned business focused scripts are a start.  Getting away from scripting altogether should be the long term goal for the business user segment.  Let business users create analysis jobs by dragging and dropping artifacts, actions and complex algorithms created by developers onto a job creation pane.  Put the scripts in the background so the business user can always customize the job’s behavior.  If Cloudera can pull this off and win the business user segment, they’ll have walked away with the enterprise Hadoop market.

Good luck to them.