Hortonworks' Murthy bullish on Microsoft's Nadella

Microsoft's new CEO is no stranger to Hadoop.

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Microsoft goes internal for its next CEO with Satya Nadella

What does this mean for the future of the devices and services company?

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Satya Nadella is the new CEO of Microsoft.  Arun Murthy, Founder and Architect at big name Hadoop player Hortonworks, is stoked.

Why?  Because Nadella likes to get his hands dirty with technology.  In one instance, Nadella put a status message up on Microsoft FUSE Labs' social network Socl that he was reading up on YARN, the Hadoop 2.0 component and project that Murthy led.  I spoke with Murthy today about Nadella's ascension at Microsoft, and the seriousness with which Microsoft is approaching the Big Data world.  Murthy's pretty jazzed.

Also read:  Hortonworks founder: YARN is Hadoop's datacentre OS

Of Nadella, Murthy told me "he gets the fact that you have to innovate on the technology…and the rest of it will follow."  With respect to Nadella's engineering pedigree, Murthy said "It's always inspiring to see someone of his background get to where he is."  Given Murthy's a technical leader at a Hadoop startup and Nadella is the new CEO of a nearly 40-year-old software megavendor, the comment is striking.

Hortonworks and Microsoft, sitting in a tree
Of course, Murthy is not totally unbiased, as Hortonworks is Microsoft's partner in the Hadoop space.  Hortonworks Data Platform is the only major Hadoop distro that runs on Windows Server.  It's also at the heart of Microsoft's Hadoop-in-the-cloud offering, HDInsight.

Hortonworks Founder and Architect Arun Murthy

Interestingly, this partnership is not unidirectional though. "Microsoft is far ahead of everyone else in terms of what they're contributing back to the community" says Murthy.  That may sound like fluff until you understand that Microsoft has contributed significant resources and IP to the Stinger initiative, which focuses on making Apache Hive orders of magnitude faster.  Stinger gets significant engineering effort from Hortonworks, and leadership from Murthy.  But Microsoft's Data Platform team has pitched in a lot, and Microsoft's Eric Hanson even wrote a guest post about it for Hortonworks' blog.

800-pound gorilla meets Elephant
At the beginning of our conversation, Murthy told me "I think it's exciting to see Microsoft becoming a key part of the Hadoop community."  Fittingly, Nadella is one of the key players at Microsoft that got the company there.  I know from my own work with Microsoft that Nadella's work on Bing raised his consciousness of Hadoop, and his role as President of the Server and Tools Division galvanized Microsoft's commitment to it.

Could Nadella be Microsoft's Big Data CEO?  If he stays true to his roots, then all signs point to yes.