​Hadoop adoption limps along - so perhaps big data isn't such a big deal?

New research from analyst firm Gartner paints a picture of tentative take-up of Hadoop big-data technology, with two causes emerging as the culprits.

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Despite the apparent enthusiasm for big data and analytics, the outlook for Hadoop over the next two years looks patchy.

Early adopters may be reporting successes with the open-source big-data framework, but just over half of the businesses quizzed by analyst firm Gartner are not planning to invest in it for the moment, and just 18 percent will be doing so over the next two years.

Some firms simply do not view Hadoop as a priority, while others see it as overkill for their business problems, implying the opportunity costs of implementing Hadoop were too high relative to expected benefits, Gartner said.

Just 26 percent are already deploying, piloting, or experimenting with Hadoop, with 11 percent planning to invest within 12 months, and seven percent within 24 months.

"With such a large incidence of organisations with no plans or already on their Hadoop journey, future demand for Hadoop looks fairly anaemic over at least the next 24 months," Gartner research vice president Merv Adrian said in a statement.

"Moreover, the lack of near-term plans for Hadoop adoption suggest that, despite continuing enthusiasm for the big-data phenomenon, demand for Hadoop specifically is not accelerating."

The best hope for revenue growth for providers appears to be moving existing customers to larger deployments, he concluded.

As well as a lack of enthusiasm for Hadoop and doubts about the value of investing in it, a lack of expertise in the technology also appears to be inhibiting adoption, cited by 57 percent of respondents. Figuring out how to get value from Hadoop was cited by 49 percent.

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Tools are improving but they primarily support highly-skilled users rather than elevate skills already available in most organisations, the analyst firm said.

"Hadoop vendors are responding to this challenge by offering a variety of training options. However, Gartner estimates it will take two to three years for the skills challenge to be addressed. Beyond skills, demonstrating the value of Hadoop is the second-highest challenge," Gartner said.

Firms that are already piloting or deploying Hadoop say clusters are being accessed by a small number of users. Some 70 percent have between one and 20 users accessing Hadoop. Four percent report zero users.

Gartner research director Nick Heudecker said early Hadoop projects typically involve a small number of users and the Hadoop stack remains unsuitable for simultaneous use by multiple users, which is also keeping numbers down. He also pointed to a skills shortage as possibly the best explanation for the small number of Hadoop users.

"One of the core value propositions of Hadoop is that it is a lower cost option to traditional information infrastructure. However, the low numbers of users relative to the cost of cluster hardware, as well as any software support costs, may mean Hadoop is failing to live up to this promise," he said.

Gartner conducted the survey in February and March 2015 among 284 Gartner Research Circle members, a panel composed of IT and business leaders.

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