Interview With Jack Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at MapR

Jack Norris explains his role at MapR


Big Data Innovation and Innovation Enterprise are always happy when we hear about the good fortunes of our long term partners. So we were glad to hear the news that MapR Technologies, who we have worked with for a long time, have recently had a $110 million round of funding. An added bonus to the money is that one of the main investors is Google Capital, stemming from the most data driven company in the world - Google.

I spoke to Jack Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at MapR about the funding and what this represented for MapR.

Given the data centric elements of MapR, being given such a ringing endorsement by Google is particularly pleasing for the company as it shows an appreciation for their work from the data community. “Google has been the inspiration behind a lot of Big Data technologies. Google became Google because of their backend architecture”, said Jack, it is very much a nod to not only the importance of the internet giant, but also to M.C Srivas, the co-founder of MapR. Srivas had been instrumental in the early data architecture of Google, helping them to dominate the search space before founding MapR.

Srivas then took this understanding of data and the importance of backend architecture to MapR, according to Jack one of the most important aspects was a redesign of the storage layer, creating the groundwork for the MapR systems that we know today. Talking about the cycle at Google Jack says “If you look at the innovation system, they went from Google file system to map reduce framework, big table and then did Dremel. It is quite an innovation path”, it is similar to the innovation path that Srivas has set for the company.

Having a founder who understands the way that Google works has given the company a similar approach, with the core product at the centre of the company ethos, allowing users to do what they need to whilst also allowing for quick and easy scaling. The expansion of Google and the way they innovate within their use of data is also close, something that is likely to have played a major part in their decision to invest.

Jack also told me about why he believed that Google had invested so heavily in MapR and the process that the investors went through in the due diligence process.

One of the key components of this, aside from the financials that every due diligence process goes through, is the access to customers to ask about the product and their thoughts on the company as a whole. After talking to customers, Google found that there had been a significant number who had driven business success through the use of the system and the ways in which it allowed their data to be processed.

A point that Jack was keen to make was the development of their “MapR DB” a technology that allowed them to process data in real time. This creates an environment for reduced writing times and instant saves rather than waiting for data to be written in the traditional sense. This is similar to many of the data innovations used by Google, and one of the key reasons that saw them become the dominant search engine within two years of inception.

However, the question that everybody wants to know is, what are they going to be spending the money on?

According to Jack “The fund really allows us to accelerate our growth”. It is going to allow MapR to make real strides forwards in their international expansion, offering services across more than the 11 countries in which they currently operate. Investments will take place across the company, from speeding up innovations to operational costs that will come with the increased expansion globally.

An aspect that I was particularly interested in was the investment in open source software. As a company using Hadoop, it was great to hear that they are not turning their back on open source, but instead investing heavily in it. The next iteration of Hadoop (2.2) is in the works and Apache Drill, which is soon to be released, have been two areas in particular where Jack and the people at MapR have been interested.

What this investment really communicates though, is not only that MapR is making the right noises, but that big companies have faith in Big Data. Companies like Google, who have one of the strongest pedigrees in data clearly still believe in the power of data across the globe and have put their money where their mouth is. From what we know of our work with MapR, as well as our other partners, is that they have clearly put their money in safe hands.

Come and see MapR at Big Data Innovation in Boston, on September 25 & 26.


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