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October 14, 2013

Zettaset Sues Intel Over Hadoop Trade Secrets

Isaac Lopez

Hadoop security software vendor Zettaset today revealed that it has filed a civil complaint against Intel Corporation for the alleged misappropriation of trade secrets.

Zettaset, which, among other services, provides a security framework for the increasingly popular Apache Hadoop software system, in a press release claims that Intel has “unlawfully extracted trade secrets from Zettaset’s product and technology to such a level that the Intel Manager for Apache Hadoop Software now mirrors the features and functionality of Zettaset’s Orchestrator software.”

We spoke to Zettaset’s CTO Brian Christian earlier this year, who explained the unique challenges that Hadoop vendors face as they try to court enterprises that may be skittish on security concerns as they examine the fledgling framework for their business processes. Central to the challenge is the distributed nature of Hadoop’s computing environment, which Christiansen says changes the game for security.

“There’s really been no distributed system security in the wild that’s been done,” Christiansen told Datanami, adding the claim that most vendors tackling security in the space have been merely reverse engineering security that is appropriate for relational systems, but doesn’t scale in the distributed environment. “The moment you introduce a product that does not scale to multiple petabytes of data, you have the potential to introduce another single point of failure because if that single system fails, you are now left with say, 200 machines and 10 PB of data that are now potentially corrupted that you can’t gain access to.”

Christiansen explained that the Zettaset Orchestrator offering included a distributed security offering that it has built from the ground up. Zettaset would not confirm if the lawsuit revolved specifically around the security aspects of Orchestrator. However, its spokesperson was able to provide the following statement from Jim Vogt, President and CEO of the company:

“Since early 2012, Zettaset and Intel have been involved in a deep business relationship regarding Zettaset’s Hadoop management layer – our enterprise software platform, Orchestrator. These interactions were conducted in good faith with the goal of a potential  partnership and commercial relationship.

During this time, Intel had access to Zettaset’s product and technology, including proprietary and highly confidential information. In February of this year, at Strata conference, Intel announced a Hadoop management framework directly competitive to Zettaset’s Orchestrator product. Clearly, our trade secrets and technology were compromised and inappropriately secured under our NDA agreement, and on Thursday, October 10, 2013, we filed a formal complaint against Intel Corporation for Breach of Contract and Misappropriation of Trade Secrets. 

Zettaset does not like courts, or lawyers, or litigation, but we have an obligation to our shareholders and investors to protect our intellectual property, which is a key value to our business.”

Zettaset filed the complaint in Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Santa Clara. According to the company, the discovery phase of the case has commenced and a pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 14.

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