In February 2012, Hortonworks announced it was working with Microsoft to streamline the use of Apache Hadoop in Windows Server environments. That collaboration resulted in a series of patches submitted to Apache, along with an enhanced Hive ODBC driver for analyzing Hadoop with Microsoft tools such as Excel and PowerPivot for Excel. Now Microsoft’s taken that Hortonworks relationship another step. At the O’Reilly Strata Conference + Hadoop World in New York City, the companies announced that Hortonworks Data Platform undergirds Microsoft’s two new releases meant to provide additional Hadoop support for Windows Azure and Windows Server:  Windows Azure HDInsight Service and Microsoft HDInsight Server for Windows. “Big data should provide answers for business, not complexity for IT,” David Campbell, Microsoft technical fellow, wrote in an Oct. 24 statement. “Providing Hadoop compatibility on Windows Server and Azure dramatically lowers the barriers to setup and deployment and enables customers to pull insights from any data, any size, on-premises or in the cloud.” The potential appeal of a Hadoop deployment as part of Microsoft’s portfolio, of course, is the ability to filter actionable data through tools such as Excel—which in turn could expand the market for more advanced analytics, given the near-ubiquity of Microsoft tools within many organizations. Hortonworks offers a more extensive breakdown of Microsoft HDInsight’s benefits on its Website. Apache Hadoop is an open-source framework for running data applications on large hardware clusters, and the clear favorite of many organizations such as Facebook and IBM. Research firms have attributed much of this interest to the cost savings and flexibility inherent in open-source software. Given Hadoop’s popularity, it behooved Microsoft to incorporate the framework in some way into its enterprise products. Indeed, data analytics represents a significant opportunity for any IT vendor in that space. Research firm Gartner believes that Big Data will create $28 billion in worldwide spending this year, rising to $34 billion in 2013. Most of that spending will involve upgrading “traditional solutions” to handle the flood of data entering organizations from a variety of sources, including social networks, sensors and customer interactions; the firm believes that a mere $4.3 billion in sales will come from “new big data functionality.”   Image: Hortonworks