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Could Cloudera become the open source Asia?

Think of a successful company as being more like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The musicians are all great, but they all know who The Boss is.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Those of you old enough to remember the original Apple Macintosh may also remember the "super-group" known as Asia.

The group became notorious for its ego battles, forming, breaking up, and reforming until it became something of a joke. (To the right is the present line-up for "the original Asia" -- Geoff Downs, John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe.)

Point is, Cloudera is similarly endowed with talent. Who is in charge?

  • Is it Michael Olson, formerly of Oracle and (before that) Sleepycat Softaware?
  • Is it Amr Awadallah, founder of Vivasmart, who called Cloudera "my start-up" on his blog last year?
  • How about Jeff Hammerbacher, who led the Facebook database team and was most recently "entrepreneur in residence" at Accel Partners, which is funding this thing?
  • How about Chris Bisciglia, who created Google's cloud computing initiative and probably knows more about Hadoop -- the project being commercialized here -- than anyone?
  • Or could it be Marten Mickos, the mySQL founder who helped fund the new company and knows more about how to spin open source into a billion dollars than just about anyone?

This is important because the underlying technology, MapReduce, is the real force behind Google's success in finding you a Chinese restaurant three blocks from your house faster than you can say moo goo gai pan.

On the company's blog Bisciglia has the two most recent entries -- one announcing the Cloudera distribution of Hadoop and one announcing Hadoop training. But maybe the rest think blogging is beneath them.

Awadallah's blog has basically gone silent of late. Olson was spotted recently in Europe. Hammerbacher's last major contribution to the Cloudera blog is dated October. So whose songs go on the album, who talks to the press, and who interfaces with the label (uh, venture capitalists)?

Beyond the snark there is an important point here. Every successful company I know of is entrepreneurial, with one entrepreneur. Often there's an "inside" guy and an "outside" guy -- it's the latter you have heard of, but the former who makes the trains run on time.

But no more than that. Think of a successful company as being more like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The musicians are all great, but they all know who The Boss is.

There is a lot to be excited about here, but open source has been around long enough that it has lots of stars, lots of egos, and a successful start-up is generally ego-free.

There's also this. If Cloudera breaks up, those whose vision is rejected could just fork Hadoop and come out with their own distribution.

Which brings me back to the original analogy -- have you checked out Asia Featuring John Payne?

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