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August 27, 2015

Intel Investments Seek to Speed Big Data Rollouts

Chipmaker Intel Corp. is expanding its push into big data with an equity investment and a technology partnership with BlueData, the startup that specializes in generating virtualized big data clusters.

Along with the strategic technology alliance, BlueData, Mountain View, Calif., announced a $20 million funding round this week led by Intel Capital. Amplify Partners, Atlantic Bridge, Ignition Partners and an undisclosed investor joined the Series C funding round.

The partnership calls for BlueData to tailor its big data infrastructure software for the Intel x86 architecture. Intel said it would focus on developing a joint engineering roadmap and customer acquisition.

BlueData runs Hadoop and Spark in a virtualized environment with decoupled compute and storage, providing what the startup claims is “a cloud-like experience for on-premises big data deployments.” The company’s EPIC software is designed to help enterprises quickly spin up virtual Hadoop or Spark clusters.

Kumar Sreekanti, co-founder and CEO of BlueData, said the joint product development deal with Intel would “allow enterprises to accelerate their deployment of Hadoop and Spark.”

Michael Greene, an Intel vice president, noted in a blog post that the “current infrastructure for most Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark deployments was not purpose-built to handle big data workloads or the needs of data scientists.” Hence, Greene continued, “modernizing and virtualizing the infrastructure for these big data workloads will become a key mechanism for organizations to future-proof their big data investments.”

BlueData claims its EPIC product can spin up a Hadoop cluster in a matter of seconds using virtualization and its own patent-pending technologies. The result is essentially a next-generation VMware layer for big data. Indeed, Kumar and BlueData co-founder, Tom Phelan, both worked in VMware’s R&D department.

Kumar added in a blog post announcing the Intel collaboration that the drive to simplify the provisioning infrastructure and applications would unable “Hadoop-as-a-Service or Spark-as-a-Service on-premises.” Among other things, EPIC is designed to run with shared storage with the goal of eliminating the need to move data while reducing data duplication, the partners said.

Intel said Doug Fisher, senior vice president and general manage of its Software and Services Group, would join BlueData’s board. Intel’s equity investment in BlueData is its third since 2012 as it looks for ways to simplify the deployment of big data infrastructure.

The chipmaker has previously announced big data technology collaboration agreements and investments in Cloudera centered on Apache Hadoop. In dropping development of its own Hadoop distribution, Intel agreed to invest in and promote Cloudera’s distribution. It has also announced a technology development deal with Databricks and AMPLab to promote Apache Spark.

BlueData has reportedly raised $39 million in three funding rounds.

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