The Attraction of Cloudera’s Open Source Data Platform – The Six Five Podcast Insiders Edition

On this special episode of The Six Five Podcast – Insiders Edition hosts Patrick Moorhead and Daniel Newman welcome Anupam Singh, Chief Customer Officer for Cloudera to discuss the critical support Cloudera is providing customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Turning to Data in Times of Crisis

Cloudera works with clients across a variety of industries including banking, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and government agencies. Companies and organizations within these industries are facing unprecedented times and are critical for keeping people safe and healthy.

Healthcare is probably the most interesting use case during this crisis though. Anupam shared that healthcare companies and plans are turning to data dashboards that have thousands of electronic healthcare records and patient data that can help them plan for the next patient. The companies are able to analyze patient history and use a sophisticated data platform to determine what the next best step is for say a clinical trial or something else that could be helpful.

For transportation companies that provide transportation services for riders, should they have more cars on the road? How do they ensure driver safety? Should they just shut down? These are the questions that companies are asking, and they’re turning to data for the answers.

Logistics companies are also turning to data for answers. Think about the food supply at your local grocery store. We are all wondering when our stores will be stocked with bread or toilet paper again and there is an entire supply chain behind these items. Logistics companies are looking at the data to figure out how to restock the stores and get supplies to the customers who need it.

Open Source is Attractive

In a market saturated with data analytics platforms, Cloudera is able to be a little different with their open source offerings. Customers don’t want to be chained to one software platform; they don’t want the blackbox; they want transparency. Customers come for the interoperability, but then stay because of the scale of the data that the platform can handle. Think about how much data you generate on your phone just as one individual. For enterprise companies, that is exponentially larger and there is no other data platform that can handle that volume.

Privacy and Governance Matter to the End User

We generate a lot of data. Streaming, using our phones, our apps — in almost everything we do, we are generating data. And that data has to live somewhere. Some companies that collect data have multiple data centers and have to ensure security and governance everywhere. Anupam pointed out that it’s not the sexy part of the big data and cloud sharing, but this is the part that everyone is concerned about right now.

More and more people are questioning how a company uses their data. How do they know certain facts or pieces of information about me? How does Netflix know I like cake baking shows? Companies have to be aware of what their users think and being able to confidently say the data is secure no matter where it is, matters.

Where is Digital Transformation Going?

It can be easy to think that due to the current climate that digital transformation might slow down. But Anupam disagrees. Right now, we are obsessed with the COVID-19 data. Every time you turn on a news channel there’s a graph about infection rates, active diseases, and the impact of social distancing. Companies are going to need more analytics to digest this data and apply it to their customer data.

We are creating new opportunities for data too. Video visits with healthcare providers will likely become normal after this crisis is over. There is an opportunity to analyze the data that creates.

As companies have been forced to work from home and transition quickly, they’ve realized where the flaws are. Where the weak spots are, and when this crisis ends it’s likely that companies are going to have to spend money to shore up the vulnerabilities or risk going extinct.

If you’d like to learn more about Cloudera, their offerings, and how they’re helping clients with digital transformation, check out their website and be sure to listen to the full episode. While you’re at it, make sure to hit subscribe so you never miss an episode.


Patrick Moorhead: Welcome to The Six Five Podcast Insider Edition, I’m Patrick Moorhead with Moor Insights and Strategy and I’m joined by my ever present co-host, Daniel Newman with Futurum Research. And just as a reminder, on The Six Five Insider Edition we interview executives from the most relevant and influential companies across the globe Daniel. How the heck are you doing?

Daniel Newman: I’m doing good Pat. I am excited to have this show. I think it’s gonna be a great conversation with a really interesting company that’s doing some fascinating things, I think to tee this thing up though it’s, the middle of March. It’s 2020. We are in some of the strangest times, we are in the college Strange Days. For those of you out there depending on when you listen to this show because obviously it’s a podcast, which means you might catch this later, you might catch this right when we release it but we are amidst the COVID-19 lockdown right now. So what started in January as a pesky illness that shut down big events like Mobile World Congress and started sweeping through our tech events series for the whole spring patch, which puts you in on the road all the time, all of a sudden we find ourselves at home, basically being told to stay at home by the government, by our states, by our country, because we have an illness that’s spreading like wildfire. But this has given us a great opportunity to reflect, it’s seen a lot of change, we’ve had a chance to have a lot of great conversations and another one here right now today.

So, I’ll let you tee that up.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, so that as the context, we’re really pleased to have Anupam Singh who’s the Chief Customer Officer at Cloudera, and we’re really excited to talk with you Anupam about how your customers are powering through COVID-19. But I think, first off, you have a really interesting entrepreneurial background, so maybe if you could tell us what you do at Cloudera and what being a Chief Customer Officer is all about. But I also think our entrepreneurial listeners, particularly those at startups, would love to hear some words of wisdom from you during these uncertain times.

Anupam Singh: Oh, thank you, Patrick. Thank you, Daniel for hosting this. As Daniel said, this is a very unprecedented. Dime there’s a lot of moving parts, if you will, to everybody’s day, while you’re stuck at home. And for me as an entrepreneur not that this particular scenario has happened before, but having been through a recession. If you are in tech, having been through the tech downturn of 2000 when everybody predicted the tech is dead for good. I’ve had a lot of experience as an entrepreneur, navigating through these times. I’ve done two startups. Both of them in challenging times, and I joined Cloudera when Cloudera acquired my last company, five and a half years ago. And as an entrepreneur, I always had the urge to go back and build another company. But the interesting stuff that our customers do with data continues to be fascinating, continues to keep people like me engaged. So we have a lot of entrepreneurs inside Cloudera who have either sold their companies to Cloudera or have worked with our customers. And therefore, want to continue working with customers.

What does a Chief Customer Officer do? Well since this morning I’ve talked to a huge credit card company. I’ve talked to a huge fan and automotive company, and then I finished my day talking to a technology company, walking them through what we are planning to do both in these challenging times but in general, walking them through technology and trying to figure out how they can utilize or accelerate business growth from their side.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, so there’s a lot being discussed right now, Anupam, by the way that’s a great introduction, you know it sounds like you’ve found yourself an entrepreneurial company that you could make yourself a home at, you know, we say intrapreneurs kind of a buzzword these days but it’s sort of the best of both worlds, to some extent, right? If you have that courage to have that entrepreneurial spirit sometimes you do it on your own, but if you can bring that inside of a fast growing company that’s so good for the culture and being an entrepreneur.

And Pat, I think you can say to yourself, it is really hard to find people that have that particular, I don’t know what you call it, that particular trait, that particular capability, because so often that’s what young companies and growing companies need. So it’s a great story Anupam, so thanks for sharing that with us. It was a lot being discussed right now around the coronavirus situation and I think we’d be, you know, it would probably be a little bit odd to not cover it, at least in some way. But I want to talk about kind of your customers because you primarily work through the partners, you guys have a lot of the biggest customers in the world, and I’m sure you’re having discussions about it, you know, in terms of this whole coronavirus, COVID-19. What are Cloudera’s customers doing? You know, and how is Cloudera’s technology involved in being able to support these companies and their initiatives, agendas and strategies during this time?

Anupam Singh: As we like to say, our customers are our heroes right? When I tried to explain to my 13-year-old what a data analytics platform does, it’s super difficult unless you talk about our customers. So, the biggest banks on the planet have to handle market volatility. It is public information that most of them are clouding our customers. Many of us have looked at data during these times trying to see, you know what’s happening in my city, my town, or you might have a friend in another country, you go to the website you try to find, you know, what’s happening in their town. Our healthcare customers are taking a lot of electronic health record data, they’re combining the history of their members and trying to figure out the best way to plan for these very challenging times. So, healthcare and banking customers, again, are our heroes because they’re dealing with a very volatile market. They are dealing with very challenging times in healthcare, and then think about the logistics customers, right, they’re trying to analyze how to deal with the needs of transportation, while being safe as a company, as well as keeping the customer safe. So, in all of these verticals, we see customers seeing a lot more data, and a lot more people want to consume the dashboards, because everybody’s trying to plan.

Patrick Moorhead: Are there any specific customers or specific use cases that you can talk about in healthcare, Anupam?

Anupam Singh: So the biggest thing is, you know, given the number of members or number of subscribers for health care plans. You want to be able to analyze the history to understand what should we do next for a particular person. So, again, these are our customers, sophisticated data analytics platforms. So they did not invent overnight. It takes five, six years when you build a massive farm of 33,000 or 50,000 computers, sitting there waiting to analyze data. So, they would take something like an electronic health record, take other data, take prescription data and try to figure out what is the best way to set up a clinical trial. That’s real time.

Patrick Moorhead: And that’s got to be critically important especially now that not just today, not just this month, but what from, from here on out and, you know. I believe the impact of these rapidly changing environments goes way beyond healthcare. Cloudera’s customers, you know, if you look at it really represents kind of the who’s who of banking, manufacturing, government agencies. What’s the role of your customers, outside of healthcare in this rapidly changing environment right now?

Anupam Singh: So, transportation, which is a really challenging vertical right now, has both of these challenges right. Now, let’s just say if you are, you know, one of these companies, which gives riders transportation — should you put more cars out there? How do you assure driver safety, or should you actually shut down? When do you start? All of these decisions are based on data. So transportation and logistics is another area. Then you have areas regarding food supply. Again, you need to make these decisions quickly, because all of you, including me, are wondering when will grocery stores have bread. So imagine the supply chain behind that grocery store that has to make the decision to get you the bread in the next 48 hours, especially during the day running out of it. Again, the customers are the heroes. They are the people who are trying to find out how to get bread to that aisle, but behind that is a massive data analytics platform.

Patrick Moorhead: Now why is it that there are so many regulated industries, for your customers who are highly regulated. What do they see in Cloudera that make you really the choice right now?

Anupam Singh: Yes. So philosophically, as an entrepreneur 10 years ago, I walked out of Oracle because I believe in this little project. And I believe in this quixotic thing that software will become open source. Today, from those humble beginnings, if you take some of those early Cloudera and. early open source folks. It is very normal for an enterprise to buy open source software. They want to see the source code, they don’t want blackbox, they don’t want to be chained to a particular software. So a customer gets interested because of open source, and then why do they stay? It’s because of the scale of data that they can handle. I came into this industry long before it was called Big Data, but it’s a great phrase, because we forget how much data is generated from our phones, so many kids are watching Netflix right now, Imagine the amount of information being generated. There is no other software on the planet that can handle that level of data.

Patrick Moorhead: Right, and it’s particularly important in different environments because it used to be, it’s funny, what we used to think was hard in big data was all on prem. And then it started growing into public cloud. And then you had hybrid. And now we’re in a situation where we’re multi-cloud. So multiple public clouds, and we’re on prem and we’re on the edge and we have a trillion devices. They’re going to be out there as well. It truly, is truly staggering.

Anupam Singh: Oh yeah so when you start thinking about it, even though, as a user of your smartphone, or user of streaming data, or user of the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, you’re generating a lot of data. It actually has to be shipped somewhere into some data center. Now, bigger than that though is the need for privacy. Think about the customer, as an end user, you’re thinking about privacy, correct? You and I might be friends but you don’t want to know, you don’t want to share everything about your life. So security and governance are very important. It used to be, if you’re just happy, storing all this data. But now, people are worried as you say, it’s, it’s across many, many data centers, and yet you have to maintain privacy and security and governance. It’s a boring part, actually.

Daniel Newman: Yeah I wouldn’t even necessarily say it’s boring. I think it’s interesting, I think people are really going to gain a level of interest in the privacy and the control of their data, you know? I’ll go on the record, we’re analysts so we don’t just ask questions. We try to give our own input from time to time here and I’ve said I actually think security and privacy are going to be like the next bastion of opportunity. I think that for the last decade companies have made a lot of money on the facts of consumers misunderstanding the tools. You know there’s kind of that idea that if the software or if the tool is free, then you’re the product. The service is free, then you’re the product.

And so we’re going to have some reconciling to do as the future comes in people suddenly realize that they’ve given up all of their personal privacy away for what will be varying degrees of value. I think there’s going to be a day of reckoning. And I think enterprise thinking and when I say enterprise, I mean more privacy-focused, security-focused applications and tools will be born. And it won’t move everybody, but we will see more focus on it. We will see more attention given to it because, Anupam, I still don’t think most of the world actually understands what they’re giving up. And they always feel as long as they’re having fun.

It’s like my kids with Tik Tok, I mean I’ll give an example I mean it’s a Chinese state-owned technology and they were literally sitting on this program, 24 hours a day, messaging, chatting, and creating content. I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong with it. I’m just saying there is no thought in that child’s mind between the data being created and shared and where that data goes, lives and how it is utilized in the future. Maybe it’s because we are in software, when we talk about this at Thanksgiving dinner or the different holiday people kind of fall asleep. That’s the turkey. That’s not the topic.

Anupam Singh: So, you know, what interests people even, even my 68 year old mom is interested about it, is when they see certain results and they freak out a little bit. Right? How does Netflix know I like cake baking shows? Right? And, you know, my mom would question that. Are they watching what I’m watching? So people are getting more educated not on who’s touching my data, what’s the, you know, what’s the privacy policy, but they get a little freaked out when a system seems to know you better. And then when it makes a mistake, right? Gender bias in models in machine learning is a well-known problem. They know that if it’s a machine learning model trained on your emails, it might have a gender bias. So we are doing a lot of work to track machine learning models. So that if there is a bias we should be able to track what data did it use to get?

Patrick Moorhead: It would seem like when I look at your customer set and you graciously made some introductions and read some of these use cases, your customers you know, heavy, heavy tilt to privacy and security, healthcare, banking, manufacturing, transportation, and governments and it seems to me that this would mean everything to them. On the whole, those industries, they’re not trying to make money off the data, they’re trying to deliver the best service and give the best insights. Your healthcare example was great. And I thought your food supply chain industry was great, as well. And if this data is, you know, on prem in five places including spreadsheets, in two different public clouds like AWS and Azure, and then you add on top of that a little bit of Azure IoT at the edge inside of a gas station. It really gets sophisticated. And that’s one element of your multi-cloud strategy that just seems completely like a no brainer. And, and just to pivot off of that, given the current global environment. Do you think we’ll see a delay of large scale digital transformation efforts by large companies and enterprises, as they reset near term tactics that are being driven today?

Anupam Singh: Really good question, Patrick. This is something that we as a team, as a board of directors, as a leadership team have discussed. Digital transformation is not going to slow down, it’s going to accelerate. Look at us right? We would have liked to meet each other in person and have this discussion. We love traveling right? Many of these people on the call, but we are literally being driven towards a digital transformation. We are all obsessed with the dashboard of infections versus active disease versus social distancing indexes and whatnot. So I think more and more, banks, healthcare companies, transportation, logistics and government will have to add more analytics. Video visits will become normal. I’ve never done a video visit in my healthcare system, but now that’s top of our app, saying please your default visit is a video visit, that’s going to draw up some data that will need to be analyzed.

Patrick Moorhead: Can you imagine too, when the regulator’s come in, where is that saved video? Did you save that video? Right? I know for certain because I spent a lot of time in financial, as the regulators come in and you have to account — and I’m sure your FinTech, sorry your financial customers see this too, — you have to account for every bit of data. Where is it in storage? Where is it in flight? And where is it in processing? And if you can’t answer those three questions related to privacy and security. You’ll likely get fined, and the fines, you know not to loop back to this but the fines for privacy were actually bigger since July of last year than the losses from security it’s astounding.

Anupam Singh: Yeah, absolutely.

Daniel Newman: That’s always been something that’s been sort of managed, right? Companies sort of managed security in the sense of, if it would cost more to secure than it would to pay the, you know, so you have to kind of watch the way companies approach that. Because that’s, you know, they’re looking at it like a business proposition but that’s your data and your privacy. And Anupam, you said something. By the way, I had a sinus infection on Monday. I woke up, I felt awful. No, no, no COVID-type symptoms, just my face felt like it was exploding. I had seasonal allergies. I had hives. Teledoctor, first time in my life. What an experience. First of all, right now, not the time to try it out because well it is and it isn’t. It’s the time because obviously being in a hospital right now or a doctor’s office is not ideal, but the backlog right now is insane and the systems that these companies have are still very rudimentary. They couldn’t track where you were in the queue, they could just tell you it was there like I mean there’s a huge opportunity for data and analytics to create improved patient experiences. And I wouldn’t doubt to some extent that a lot of data is not being tracked and created because they don’t want to. Because if they create it they actually are gonna have to deal with it.

But I want to I want to kind of touch on something that you said, and get your take because the question started off Pat, as a, is this going to slow or change digital transformation, and I would actually almost pivot, you started kind of talking about liking to meet a person and I think there is a human condition I’ve said that we could have done, we could have taken live events online for the last 20 years. We’ve had the technology to do that, but we’d like to meet people, we’d like to see people, but the learning experience of companies and we’ve seen this across the board of having to quickly assemble to remote work or mobilized project teams or build products in diverse environments, or to take tools and make sure that they are accessible in cloud and on prem seamlessly. All the stuff that we write about, Pat. About hybrid containers and Kubernetes and how this is supposed to work. Well, guess what, it doesn’t actually, it hasn’t been deployed very well because most companies, when they suddenly sent their workforce home, were not ready for this. They did not have the tools, did not outfit their employees correctly. So I would have to think, Anupam, I’d love to know your take on this but this isn’t going to slow it down. When the recession, when this recessed or depressed period ends. I think companies are going to have to open their checkbooks at risk of extinction.

Anupam Singh: Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to be mandatory. I also want to read back into another thing that we were talking about — the TikTok generation, right? So here’s the other part of it. We are now training an entire generation of people to do schooling remotely, right? What does that mean, they’re getting more and more comfortable with digital transformation.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I tend to agree on this, getting bigger here and you just hit another one which is remote schooling. You know how many schools are going to be comfortable selling data about their students and their activities? And by the way, how many parents, if and when they find out that it’s actually happening, are going to close this down? And I’ll tell you what after talking through this and we’re coming up on time here, it’s pretty clear to me that those companies that are on prem, they might be motivated to try cloud. But cloud native companies, if they’re looking for the lowest cost, enabling going on prem, and it just, you know, the ding ding just went on me, which was the role that CDP plays from Cloudera regardless of which way, your customers might want to go.

Anupam Singh: Yeah. For us, the only non-negotiable thing you’ve heard from customers is governance security, privacy. Those are non-negotiable. The rest is driven by capital expenditure versus operating expenditure. Which one are you willing to take? Do you want to buy bare metal, so that you have a one-time cost on your books, and you’re able to utilize it better to containers. We are there with our customers. If you want to go cloud native, you want to only rent/lease computing power, you’re there with it, but throughout all this, we are tracking who’s using the data. What are they doing with it? And how does it affect the end outcome for the user?

Patrick Moorhead: That is a great way to close this out. I couldn’t have done it better myself. I just want to thank you for coming on the show, Anupam. We really appreciate that. And for all of our Six Five Insider listeners, if you liked what you heard, press that subscribe button. We will have some valuable resources in the show notes from Cloudera explaining in detail, a lot of things that we were all discussing. So until the next show. I’d like to thank Anupam, and also my co-host Daniel Newman for the next time. Take it easy.

Anupam Singh: Thank you.

Disclaimer: The Six Five Insiders Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.

Image Credit: ClearPeaks

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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