Today Cloudera announced that they have acquired Austin-based data encryption vendor Gazzang. From the press release:

While Cloudera customers will continue to have a choice of a broad range of cross-platform data protection methods available from Cloudera partners, Cloudera now offers encryption for all data-at-rest stored inside the Hadoop cluster – using an approach that is transparent to applications using the data, thereby minimizing the costs associated with enabling encryption. Cloudera plans to focus the efforts of the Gazzang team on additional security challenges in Hadoop. The team will become the heart of the Cloudera Center for Security Excellence focusing exclusively on Hadoop security.

The “Big Data” market is growing rapidly, and for good reason. The ability of leverage inexpensive NoSQL databases like Hadoop, running atop cheap commodity/cloud hardware, means companies can do all sorts of analysis that was previously economically unfeasible. From large enterprise to small startups, companies are adopting NoSQL platforms for just about every use case imaginable. And while these companies won’t necessarily admit to the presence of sensitive data on these clusters, it’s there. This creates a genuine need for security with NoSQL platforms, something which the open source community has not really delivered.

If you remember our series on securing Hadoop and NoSQL clusters in 2012, one of our principal recommendations was to use transparent encryption for NoSQL. That’s because you get data security while still allowing big data to maintain scalability and input velocity. Those may seem like obvious requirements, but they are not givens for most security products. Gazzang is, at its core, is a transparent data encryption tool with key management.

Enterprises are adopting big data solutions, despite what some mainstream publications have stated, but only when they can satisfy data security and compliance requirements. Cloudera’s ability to address the enterprise’s most critical security requirement – data encryption – directly on the platform is a big win for security sensitive customers. Even better, Gazzang’s transparent encryption scales right along with NoSQL clusters so Cloudera customers get data security at big data scale.

Cloudera is one of a growing group that includes MapR, Hortonworks, Datastax and Zettaset, positioning security as a differentiator to enterprise customers. Bundling encryption and key management capabilities into platforms will make them faster and easier to deploy – a win for customers. I usually have a handful of risks and downsides for every acquisition, but it is hard to criticize this deal because there are not that many possible downsides. This is an astute acquisition by Cloudera.