Not All Hadoop Distributions are Created Equal

By Published December 22, 2014 Updated December 5th, 2017


The debate is over. Big data analytics has proven benefits. And organizations looking to implement a big data solution now have a number of options to choose from. The challenge is selecting the right Hadoop vendor, as not all Hadoop distributions are created equal. As a help to finding the best fit, here are a number of key considerations organizations need to keep in mind when choosing a Hadoop distribution.

Scalability – The big data analytics needs of an organization will typically increase over time. In selecting a Hadoop distribution it’s critical for companies to make sure that the system they choose can easily scale to meet both current and future data needs. Scalability is dependent upon two main features, the first of which is file capacity. Distributions that use a single NameNode have limited file capacity. In contrast, distributions that distribute the metadata allow file capacity to scale exponentially. The other rate-limiting factor for scalability is the number of nodes a distribution has. Distributions that run large numbers of nodes have a greater capacity to scale than those that run fewer nodes.

The benefit of choosing a cloud big data solution over an on-premise one is that the cloud offers unlimited scalability with clusters that automatically spin up or down dependent on need.

Management – In the past Hadoop distributions were less manageable than they are now, as they required a host of sophisticated developers to manage multiple Hadoop environments. Today, advances in technology and design have made Hadoop distributions less costly and labor intensive to manage. That being said there can be variances with respect to the depth and quality of the management tools found in the various Hadoop distributions that are currently commercially available. As a result, organizations need to make sure that the Hadoop distribution they are considering is easy and cost-effective to manage.

Providers of big data in the cloud differ from traditional Hadoop vendors in that they offer a plug-and-play big data solution. This allows you to focus solely on conducting analysis and running ad hoc queries rather than maintaining and running a cluster.

Security – As evidenced by the number of high-profile data breaches that have recently made the headlines, no data system is one-hundred-percent secure. And the fact is that some Hadoop distributions offer more secure environments than others. Organizations need to perform due diligence to make sure that the Hadoop distributions they are considering offer security features that are not overly complicated and labor-intensive to set up. Ideally, security should be built right into a system’s architecture. Consequently, many of today’s distributions have security features that meet benchmark standards and are enabled to run immediately, with no set-up whatsoever, making them the most desirable for organizations.

Dependability – On a fundamental level, any Hadoop distribution being considered must be shown to be dependable. Otherwise, users and administrators will become unnecessarily overburdened by problems that are inevitable in any system. When shopping for a Hadoop distribution, data integrity, protection and disaster recover functionalities are assurances of Hadoop platform dependability. When selecting a as-a-service model of Hadoop, be sure to research the level of support the service offers and whether the service frequently has downtime.

Cloud vs. On-Premise – An important consideration in choosing a Hadoop distribution is whether to go with an on-premise or cloud-based (SAAS) deployment. While either may be suitable for an organization, one major advantage of a cloud-based Hadoop solution is that it offers both large and small organizations instant access to a rapidly scalable analytics platform on a cost-effective pay-per-use basis.

With so many options out there, choosing the right Hadoop distribution is a formidable challenge for today’s organizations. By keeping the above considerations top of mind, the odds of finding the right distribution will increase dramatically.


Big data in the cloud puts business intelligence first and technology second. With the power of a Hadoop cluster as a fully managed service, Hadoop as a Service makes using big data for marketing easy. Learn more about Hadoop in the cloud