Big data remains a big deal, but that fact is somewhat obscured by the recent stumbling of its former poster children: Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR. Once the darlings of data, able to raise gargantuan piles of cash—Intel pumped $766 million into Cloudera in just one investment round!—the heavyweights have been forced to skinny down, whether by merging (Cloudera and Hortonworks) or cutting heads (MapR).

Meanwhile, other open source big data vendors like Elastic and MongoDB are soaring. What gives? There is, of course, a variety of reasons, among them the fact that the erstwhile Hadoop vendors bet big on the wrong audience, namely architects bound to the data center, while the market shifted to developers seeking freedom in the cloud.

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