Hadoop got its start in Nutch. A few of us were attempting to build an open source web search engine and having trouble managing computations running on even a handful of computers. Once Google published its GFS and MapReduce papers, the route became clear. They’d devised systems to solve precisely the problems we were having with Nutch. So we started, two of us, half-time, to try to re-create these systems as a part of Nutch.
We managed to get Nutch limping along on 20 machines, but it soon became clear that to handle the Web’s massive scale, we’d need to run it on thousands of machines, and moreover, that the job was bigger than two half-time developers could handle.
Around that time, Yahoo! got interested, and quickly put together a team that I joined. We split off the distributed computing part of Nutch, naming it Hadoop. With the help of Yahoo!, Hadoop soon grew into a technology that could truly scale to the Web.
In 2006, Tom White started contributing to Hadoop. I already knew Tom through an excellent article he’d written about Nutch, so I knew he could present complex ideas in clear prose. I soon learned that he could also develop software that was as pleasant to read as his prose.
From the beginning, Tom’s contributions to Hadoop showed his concern for users and for the project. Unlike most open source contributors, Tom is not primarily interested in tweaking the system to better meet his own needs, but rather in making it easier for anyone to use.
Initially, Tom specialized in making Hadoop run well on Amazon’s EC2 and S3 services. Then he moved on to tackle a wide variety of problems, including improving the MapReduce APIs, enhancing the website, and devising an object serialization framework. In all cases, Tom presented his ideas precisely. In short order, Tom earned the role of Hadoop committer and soon thereafter became a member of the Hadoop Project Management Committee.
Tom is now a respected senior member of the Hadoop developer community. Though he’s an expert in many technical corners of the project, his specialty is making Hadoop easier to use and understand.
Given this, I was very pleased when I learned that Tom intended to write a book about Hadoop. Who could be better qualified? Now you have the opportunity to learn about Hadoop from a master—not only of the technology, but also of common sense and plain talk.