Big data is a tsunami that’s coming and there’s a lot of innovation happening in the distribution space, but there’s not much innovation at the infrastructure level,” said BlueData Software CEO Kumar Sreekanti in an email interview with TechRepublic. “During my tenure at VMware, I listened to many CIOs and many people talk about big data, but no one was paying attention to this space. We found a phenomenal opportunity to help the industry and change it once and for all by bringing a high quality infrastructure for big data.”

Located in Santa Clara, Calif., BlueData has been building a “fast and secure” big data private cloud since its founding in 2012. The startup left stealth mode behind with the launch of its EPIC Enterprise platform in September 2014.

“BlueData’s mission is to take the complexity, time and manpower out of big data infrastructure, so enterprises can leverage the benefits of big data instead of being drowned by it,” said Sreekanti in our email Q&A. “The BlueData EPIC platform helps IT to deliver big data as a high-performing on-premise service to run any distributed application on any server from any storage.”

TechRepublic: I’m interested in your firm’s statement: “We democratize big data.” Could you elaborate?

Kumar Sreekanti: BlueData’s mission is to simplify, and thus democratize, big data. We take the complexity out of big data infrastructure and eliminate it as a barrier to adoption. Our target customers are enterprises of all sizes that want to build agile, secure and cost-effective big data deployments that deliver value in days, instead of months, and at a cost savings of 50 percent to 75 percent compared with traditional approaches. By making big data accessible to all, enterprises can get the same value out of their on-premise big data as companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon at a fraction of the cost, and with far fewer resources.

TechRepublic: What need did you and your cofounder see in the big data space when you founded BlueData?

Kumar Sreekanti: In creating BlueData, my cofounder, Tom Phelan, and I had an opportunity to speak with many CIOs, IT architects and data scientists to gain a deeper understanding of their big data problems and challenges. We found they really liked the consumption model of public clouds such as Amazon EMR but, for various reasons, could not use the public cloud for their data and no workable solution for private data centers existed. As we continued talking to various potential customers, we identified a clear need to provide a turnkey solution that created an Amazon EMR-like self-service consumption model for big data infrastructure in private data centers. While there are companies who provide point products for compute virtualization, private clouds and distributed application resource management, there was no single solution that provided a cohesive solution with a simple, transparent user experience for big data administrators and data workers alike.

That’s where Tom and I stepped in. We said, “Okay, we can create new innovations in the virtualization layer for big data workloads, but we can also create a cloud-like experience to address unmet needs around self-service creation of big data clusters in minutes vs. weeks, multi-tenancy for security and tapping into existing storage systems.” We made the right technical improvements in compute as well as storage virtualization that allowed us to virtualize big data applications.

TechRepublic: What differentiates BlueData as a next-generation technology?

Kumar Sreekanti: BlueData is the only solution built from the ground up and focused on big data applications. The BlueData vision is to allow our customers to take our software, install it on hardware in their own data center, and within a few hours have their own private big data cloud platform akin to Amazon EMR up and running. This would allow data scientists to individually stand up their own virtual clusters and then run their jobs directly. Other approaches on the market are mere band-aids. Our solution helps companies focus on analyzing the data without the burden of complex infrastructure or the challenge and risk of moving their data.

The BlueData EPIC platform can connect any enterprise storage to the big data application of choice. That means no more moving and replicating data. By not wasting time dealing with a complex infrastructure, enterprises are free to focus on analyzing the data for smarter business decisions.

TechRepublic: What kind of feedback and traction are you seeing since releasing EPIC Enterprise in Sept. 2014?

Kumar Sreekanti: The feedback and traction we’ve received since releasing the product has wildly exceeded our expectations. Even prior to the release of EPIC Enterprise in September, there were a dozen proof of concepts (POC)/beta installs at leading customers across different verticals such as pharmaceutical, financial services, telecommunication, cable, retail and higher education. Since then, the majority of these POCs have converted to customers.

We also received a lot of attention at Strata + Hadoop World NY 2014. Users with existing deployments of Hadoop and Spark validated our value proposition around simplifying big data infrastructure. We’ve been covered by a broad cross section of analysts across big data analytics, infrastructure, virtualization and storage, all of whom validated that infrastructure is a major barrier to big data adoption and that our solution meets the market need at the right place at the right time. We also received significant traction with the broader big data partner ecosystem of Hadoop distributions, BI/ETL, analytics, server/hardware and system integrators. They all recognize that big data infrastructure is an impediment to broader adoption of their products/services and validated the need for the BlueData solution.

TechRepublic: Do you have plans to produce hybrid and public cloud versions of EPIC? Why did you opt to initially create an on-premise solution?

Kumar Sreekanti: We do not have plans to produce hybrid and public cloud versions of EPIC right now. It is an opportunity that would be a second wave after we focus on enterprise. We specifically created an on-premise solution as a direct result of our conversations with CIOs, IT architects and data scientists who told us they love the consumption model of Amazon EMR, but they can’t put their data in a public cloud and they can’t find a solution to run in their private datacenters.

Security is very important for every enterprise customer, more in particular with Hadoop since it’s dealing with large amounts of data, some of which can be quite secure. The key when an enterprise rolls out a Hadoop platform is to be able to be cognizant of their different types of security.

Specifically, some of the key problems that Hadoop needs to address today are things like multi-tenancy and data governance. Multi-tenancy is the ability to onboard different user groups or business units who have diverse requirements. For example, some business units may want to run more machine learning jobs, while others might want to run more batch processing. The ability to onboard all of these different users onto a single Hadoop cluster is a very difficult problem to solve. BlueData is making progress in addressing this problem and can help since we provide an elastic cloud environment so each user can have a cluster that is tailored to their specific needs.

TechRepublic: What are the benefits of access to your big data ecosystem to BlueData customers?

Kumar Sreekanti: Our big data ecosystem is comprised of highly influential technology companies spanning infrastructure, big data distributions, ETL/BI applications and system integrators to accelerate the adoption of big data Private Cloud on-premises. Our thirteen partners to date include infrastructure partners Cisco and Intel; distribution partners Cloudera, Databricks, Hortonworks, and MapR; system integration partners MetaScale and Zaloni; technology partners Big Switch and Red Hat; and application partners Informatica, Platfora, and Trifacta.

Building this comprehensive partner ecosystem furthers the BlueData mission to democratize big data, making it easy and cost-effective for enterprises of all sizes to deploy a self-service, private cloud on-premises. The strength of the BlueData solution is not only complemented, but validated, by the numerous alliances with prestigious industry players that recognize the value of the EPIC platform in simplifying private cloud infrastructure and eliminating complexity as a barrier to adoption.