Apache Hadoop – A comparison among different components

Apache Hadoop is an open-source software framework written in Java. It is primarily used for the storage and processing of large sets of data, which is also better known as big data. Now, Apache Hadoop comprises of certain specific components that allow the storage and processing of large data volumes in a clustered environment. However, the two main components have been that of Hadoop Distributed File System and MapReduce programming.

In this article, we will first take a look at the various components that make up Apache Hadoop and then some of the integrated systems and databases.

Components of Apache Hadoop

Hadoop, as a whole, consists of the following parts.

Hadoop Distributed File System – Abbreviated as HDFS, it is primarily a file system similar to many of the already existing ones. However, it is also a virtual file system.

There is one notable difference with other popular file systems, which is, when we move a file in HDFS, it is automatically split into smaller files. These smaller files are then replicated on a minimum of three different servers, so that they can be used an alternative to unforeseen circumstances. Also, this replication count isn’t necessarily defined, and can be decided as per requirements.

Hadoop MapReduce – MapReduce is mainly the programming aspect of Hadoop that allows processing of such large volumes of data.

There is also a provision that breaks down requests into smaller requests, which are then sent to multiple servers. This allows utilization of the scalable power of the CPU.

HBASE – HBASE happens to be a layer that sits atop the HDFS and has been developed by means of the Java programming language. HBASE primarily has the following aspects –

  • Non relational
  • Highly scalable
  • Fault tolerance

Every single row that exists in HBASE is identified by means of a key. The number of columns is also not defined, but rather grouped into column families.

Zookeeper – This is basically a centralized system that maintains –

  • Configuration information
  • Naming information
  • Synchronization information

Besides these, Zookeeper is also responsible for group services and is utilized by HBASE. It also comes to use for MapReduce programs.

Solr/Lucene – This is nothing but a search engine. Its libraries are developed by Apache and required over 10 years to be developed in its present robust form.

Programming Languages – There are basically two programming languages that are identified as original Hadoop programming languages. These are –

  • Hive
  • PIG

Besides these, there are a few other programming languages that can be used for writing programs, namely C, JAQL and Java. We can also make direct usage of SQL for interaction with the database, although that requires the use of standard JDBC or ODBC drivers.

Systems for integrated Hadoop operations

Most enterprise vendors have their very own Hadoop products that also comprise of their database, as well as analytical offerings. These offerings also do not require you to source Hadoop from elsewhere, but rather provide it as a core aspect of their solutions.

Some of these are –

EMC Greenplum

Greenplum happens to be a pretty new entrant in the enterprise business and has a reputation for being a strong provider of analytics. It comes as a Unified Analytics Platform, which consists of –

  • Greenplum database meant for use on structured data
  • Its Hadoop distribution, known as the Greenplum HD
  • A productivity layer for Data Science teams called Chorus.


IBM’s enterprise distribution for Hadoop is known as Infosphere BigInsights. It implements an array of features for Hadoop, such as –

  • Tools for management
  • Tools for administration
  • It also comprises of a textual data analysis tools that help in the resolution of entities, such as identifying people, phone numbers, addresses and more.

By making use of the JAQL query language, one can integrate the Hadoop with various IBM products like DB2, or even Netezza. BigSheets, a spreadsheet like application working on big data is also offered. At present, BigInsights can only be used over cloud by means of Amazon, Rackspace, Rightscale, etc.


Hadoop forms the core part of Microsoft’s big data offering. Pursuing an integrated approach, it plans to make available big data over its tool suite for analytics.

Microsoft Big Data Solutions have been brought into the Windows Server platform and also to the Windows Azure platform, which is cloud-based. Integrated with Windows Systems Center and Active Directory, the company has its own distribution format of Hadoop. Further, it integrates Hadoop with its SQL Server, Visual Studio, and .NET.


Oracle entered into the world of big data with an appliance based approach in the form of Big Data Appliance. This ensures easy Hadoop integration, and comes along with the new NoSQL database, which allows for analytics and also has connections to Oracle databases and the Exadata warehousing lineup. NoSQL is also known as a scalable key value-based database offering.

Oracle also happens to have the R analytical platform integrated with Hadoop, and that makes it easy to ship. Oracle’s R Enterprise product is also one that allows easy database integration, and also with Hadoop.

Databases for analytics with Hadoop connectivity

Databases that support Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) are largely meant to process structured big data, unlike that of Hadoop’s specialization on unstructured data. Greenplum, and the much older Aster Data and Vertica, are best examples of early pioneers in this regard.

These MPP databases are known to handle specialized workloads in terms of analytics, and also integration of data. These provide connectors to Hadoop and other data warehousing platforms.

Of late these database solutions have been acquired by some other players in the industry, such as –

  • Aster Data has been acquired by Teradata
  • HP has acquired Vertica
  • Greenplum is now under EMC

Hadoop-centered companies

In order to meet the developer driven ideal of the big data world, distributions of Hadoop are very often offered in the form of community editions. Such types of editions do not have an enterprise management approach, but rather all of the functionalities that may be required for development and evaluation.


Cloudera happens to be the oldest establishment that provides Hadoop distributions. It is known to offer enterprise solutions, along with training, services and support options. Also, Cloudera has made numerous contributions to the Hadoop by means of open source contributions.


Hortonworks has a long history associated with Hadoop. It is mainly a product of Yahoo, and as an originator of Hadoop, it aims to promote core Hadoop technology. It has also partnered Microsoft to better their Hadoop integration.


The above article clearly explains the various modules that make up Hadoop, along with the numerous enterprise and community based editions that are available for present use. With Hadoop gaining more prominence, it is only a matter of time before more entrants are added to this increasing list.

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