BlueTalon raises $5M, sets sights on securing Hadoop

BlueTalon, a database security startup that launched last year around the goal of enabling secure data collaboration, has shifted its focus to Hadoop and is set to release its first product. The company has also raised an additional $5 million in venture capital, it announced on Wednesday, from Signia Venture Partners, Biosys Capital, Bloomberg Beta, Stanford-StartX Fund, Divergent Ventures, Berggruen Holdings and seed investor Data Collective.

Eric Tilenius, BlueTalon’s CEO, told me during an interview that the company decided to pivot and focus on Hadoop because it kept running into a “gaping hole” while speaking with potential customers. They had a pressing issue of how to put more data into Hadoop so they could take advantage of cheap storage and processing, while not simultaneously opening themselves up to data breaches or regulatory issues. One large company, he said, had a team in place to manually vet every request to access data stored in Hadoop.

Hadoop is an unstoppable force but security is the immovable object. Companies want to do away with the untold millions or billions of dollars in enterprise data warehouse contracts “that shouldn’t and don’t need to be there,” Tilenius said, but there hasn’t yet been a way to do it easily or efficiently from a security standpoint.


BlueTalon’s software works by letting administrators set up policies via a graphical user interface, and then enforces those policies across a range of storage engines. Policies can go down to the cell level, or range from user access to use access. Depending on who’s trying to access what, it might deny access, mask certain content or perhaps issue a token. The software also audits system activity and can let security personnel or administrators see who has been accessing, or trying to access information.

The BlueTalon Policy Engine, as the product is called, will be released within the next month and will support the Hive, Impala, and ODBC and JDBC environments. The company hopes to add support for the Hadoop Distributed File System by the end of the second quarter.

BlueTalon is hardly the first company or technology to tackle security and data governance in Hadoop, but Tilenius thinks his company has the easiest and most fine-grained approach available. There are numerous open-source projects and both Cloudera and Hortonworks have made security acquisitions recently, but much of that work is focused around higher-level policies or encryption.

However they choose to get it, though, it’s undeniable that companies — especially large ones — are going to want some sort of improved security for Hadoop. We’ll be sure to ask more about it at our Structure Data conference next month, which features technology leaders from Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin and more, as well as executives from across the big data landscape.

Update: This post was corrected at 11:21 a.m. PT to correct the day on which BlueTalon announced its funding.