“If something sounds too good to be true it probably is” goes popular wisdom. I am about to tell that it is not always true … so, read on.

I think of the internet heavyweights like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo! as alchemists. They figured out a way to turn massive amounts of data in to gold. Unlike alchemists of the middle ages, these modern-day wizards have found their philosopher’s stone. They call it Hadoop. Hadoop let’s them crunch massive amounts of data to extract keen business insight, which, if applied properly turns data in to gold. How else can one explain these incredible valuations for such young companies?

The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosophers' Stone by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771.

Apache Hadoop is hot. It is open source and it is, in principle, available to anyone. One of the key problems with Hadoop is an acute lack of skill. Sure there are teams at Facebook and Yahoo! who are really great at it, but the demand is coming from established enterprises not social graph companies with free cafeterias. There is precious little skill out there to satisfy this demand. Another thing that we hear quite often is that people are not having enough fun with Hadoop. OK, this one I made up but the skills problem is real. The courses on Hadoop are filled to capacity even with their hefty tuition fees.

We believe this needs to change. So, we went ahead and started BigDataUniversity.com. A community driven on-line education place where people can learn Hadoop, MapReduce, Hbase and other Big Data technologies free of charge and at their own convenience. We call it @your place, @your pace education. Since we do have the sponsorship and backing of IBM Big Data team, we decided that we should also inject an element of fun. So, we have convinced our generous sponsors to take 3 three BigDataUniversity.com students on an all expenses paid trip to attend an IBM Information on Demand Conference in Las Vegas. Yeah, we are going to Vegas!

Here is the deal. You register at the BigDataUniversity.com. There are no registration fees and no tedious forms to fill; you can use your Google, Facebook, Yahoo or ChannelDB2 id. Next, you enroll and complete the Hadoop Fundamentals I course. Just as with the registration it is free and easy. The course has easy to follow video lessons and you cement what you learned by doing hands on labs. We even provide IBM BigInsights (IBM’s version of Hadoop) to do your labs. You can download it or run it on the cloud and avoid all the fuss and headache of looking for machines, installing software etc. Your will have your very own Hadoop system in 30 minutes or less. When you complete the course and pass the exam (you didn’t think we’d let you slack off?) you will get a Certificate of Completion. You will also get an invitation to participate in the Hadoop Programming Challenge. Our sponsors will pick 3 participants to go to the IOD Conference October 23-27.

I will also be going to the IOD conference, and, if you are selected, you can count on me for a drink. Let’s summarize:

    • free Hadoop course with free materials,
    • all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas,
    • attendance at a great conference and an opportunity to rub elbows with IBM execs and technical gurus, and
    • a free drink.


There is small print nothing that will spoil the fun. If you are an IBMer or related to one, you can’t come. And you do have to have an ability (visa etc.) to travel to the USA.

It is a good deal, right?

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