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Once venture capitalists start throwing millions of dollars into a particular IT sector, it usually starts to attract the attention of the channel.

Case in point is Hadoop. This week, Hortonworks announced it has picked up an additional $100 million in funding. That comes on the heels of Cloudera raising another $140 million earlier this month.

While there are many distributions of Hadoop, including IBM, the two most dominant from a usage perspective are from Cloudera and Hortonworks. But beyond that, the two companies are taking radically different approaches to bringing Hadoop to market.

Cloudera is building a substantial big data analytics framework on top of Hadoop.

In contrast, Hortonworks, founded by former Yahoo engineers who helped create Hadoop, is focused primarily on optimizing Hadoop for use in the enterprise. As such, Hortonworks has inked alliances with SAP, Red Hat, Rackspace, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, SAS Institute and Teradata, under which they all offer the Hortonworks distribution of Hadoop.

Cloudera, which is closely allied with Oracle, just announced an agreement under which Intel will make the Cloudera distribution of Hadoop a core component of its big data strategy.

For the most part, Cloudera is taking its distribution to market both directly and via the channel it plans to develop. Hortonworks is relying more on the channels developed by its many vendor partners.

Making things more complicated from a channel perspective is the fact that it’s a bit fuzzy when it comes to determining how much of Hadoop will be coming to market as a standalone entity. Cloudera, for example, has created an OEM program under which independent software vendors will be embedding Hadoop inside packaged applications.

The good news is that demand for big data skills is far outstripping supply, which creates a set of economic conditions that the channel usually finds favorable.

At the same time, it’s also pretty clear that the story concerning which distribution of Hadoop will ultimately dominate the market is far from told just yet.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.