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Google acquisition aims to simplify big data projects

Google Cloud analytics tools are well-regarded for their technology, but not necessarily for their ease of use. Google's acquisition of Cask Data could solve that shortcoming.

Google's second cloud vendor acquisition in as many weeks aims to simplify big data analytics on its platform.

Google quietly acquired Cask Data Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif., company that sells analytics services for large-scale Hadoop workloads. The move comes just after another small Google acquisition to bolster its cloud platform, and it continues a trend to incorporate open source software into its products.

Cask's open source framework, called the Cask Data Application Platform (CDAP), can be used to build standard and less complex end-to-end big data pipelines that port across environments. There's significant market interest for software that helps companies build, deploy and operate these types of workloads, said Merv Adrian, a Gartner analyst.

"As you try to get these [open source, nonrelational databases] into the mainstream development organizations, they want templates," he said.

Merv Adrian, analyst, GartnerMerv Adrian

Amazon has addressed this need with services such as AWS Glue. Google has database engines, such as its managed Hadoop service, Cloud Dataproc, but it's a bit behind AWS in ways to help customers get started, so this deal comes at a good time for Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Adrian said.

"They've had really good come-here-and-get-it technology, and the people that use their stuff are quite happy with it," he said. "But these kinds of pieces help them expand their footing more rapidly with developers that are not quite as alpha."

Google still trails AWS and Azure in the public cloud market, but it's well-regarded for its analytics, machine learning and big data tools, said Guy Hummel, Azure and Google Cloud content lead at Cloud Academy, an independent cloud training provider based in San Francisco. "Quite often, when a company chooses Google -- and they may even already be using AWS and/or Azure -- they bring in Google for these specific areas, like business intelligence," he said.

Cask the latest Google acquisition to bolster GCP

[Google has] really good come-here-and-get-it technology ... but these kinds of pieces help them expand their footing more rapidly with developers that are not quite as alpha.
Merv Adriananalyst, Gartner

Unlike last week's disclosure of its plan to buy cloud migration vendor Velostrata, Google offered few details on its plans for Cask. This time, a Cask blog post revealed it was "joining Google Cloud," and  it would continue to develop and release open source CDAP.

In that post, William Vambenepe, Google Cloud group product manager, said Google planned to work with Cask to "help make developers more productive with our data processing services both in the cloud and on premise[s]."

Google declined to comment further on the deal.

Cask said it works with some of the largest enterprises in the world -- a market Google has worked fervently to attract and serve -- though the only reference customers cited on its website are Thomson Reuters and data management provider Lotame.

More than half a dozen Google acquisitions in the past two years have expanded GCP's functionality to varying degrees and include companies that provide hands-on training for cloud environments, data science platforms and a range of workload management tools.

Cask originally worked primarily with on-premises deployments, but later shifted its focus to the public cloud and partners with other cloud vendors, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. It's unclear how those relationships will continue, but Google increasingly emphasizes open source software on GCP as a means of portability to and from its cloud.

SearchCloudComputing senior site editor Kristin Knapp contributed to this report.

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