Amandeep Khurana
Co-Author HBase in Action & Principal Solutions Architect @Cloudera

I'm Amandeep Khurana, co-author of HBase In Action and currently a Principal Solutions Architect @ Cloudera.  

I moved to the USA to pursue graduate school in Computer Science in 2008. I didn't know what specialization I wanted to get into and didn't have any information based on which I could make a choice. At UC Santa Cruz, I started to take classes that fellow students said were good, alongside looking for a way to pay my way through school. I managed to get an opportunity with Cisco Systems to do part time work. It so happened that my projects at school as well at Cisco gave me the chance to work on the Hadoop ecosystem. At that time, Big Data wasn't the hot buzzword that it is today. It was interesting and fun though.

I decided to graduate with an MS and not pursue my PhD. And so, I started looking for a job. My dream company to work for was Amazon. Extreme customer focus was the value that attracted me there. With luck and hard work, I got a job there. However, quickly into my job there I realized that I wanted to do more than software engineering and enjoyed working with customers. A good friend of mine was a Solutions Architect at Cloudera at the time and the company was looking for more people. After him pestering for 6 months, I interviewed and got hired @ Cloudera. I've been at Cloudera for 4 years and have worked with several customers, co-authored the HBase In Action book, and learned a ton (by making mistakes and from others) about how to add value to customers and build a company in the process. 

This is not how I had anticipated things would turn out for me. I attribute it to luck, hard work and all the supportive people around me. 

Ask me anything.

Is your role similar to the Premier Field Engineer role at Microsoft?

I'm not familar with the Premier Field Engineer role @ Microsoft so can't compare.

How do you compare working at Cloudera vs Amazon? What are some differences when one decided which company to join?

Cloudera and Amazon are 2 fundamentally different companies.



  1. Business model. Cloudera is an enterprise software company with a large focus on sales and marketing. We have a big field organization that works with our customers and partners. Amazon on the other hand has a more self services model. Amazon also is a low margin, high volume player. Cloudera on the other hand is not a high volume player. Our customers are large enterprises who need large scale data management systems, which by definition is smaller in number.
  2. Software consumption model. Amazon doesn’t ship software. Everything is run as a service. AWS runs infrastructure and platform as a service. The retail side of things is a software being run as a service. Cloudera ships software. This means different release cadences, development methodology.
  3. Culture of ownership. This is one of the key things I’ve seen is different between Cloudera and Amazon. At Amazon everyone is an owner and is encouraged to function that way. At Cloudera, we are a little more siloed with defined scope and boundaries. This is more true in some parts of the company than others. What Amazon has done is really hard to pull off and that’s the only place I’ve seen it be present. At both companies, if you are adding value through your efforts, you get the support to do so.
  4. Talent. Both companies have exceptionally bright people. Not one day goes by when I don’t learn something from one of my colleagues - whether it’s technology related, sales, positioning and marketing, product management or leadership related. That was my experience at Amazon as well.
  5. Maturity of the organization. Amazon is a much larger and more mature company than Cloudera is. They’ve been in business much longer and have evolved over time. Cloudera is growing up fast and learning lessons along the way to become a sustainable long term business. We are learning to play like the big boys and learning fast.

How do you see the Big Data landscape change and what are few trends to watch out for as a software engineer?

The big data landscape is evolving fast. There are 4 areas where innovation is happening: Infrastructure. Today, the container, cloud and big data world don’t really intersect very well. There are efforts in the direction of making them interplay...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free

What would you advice to someone looking into making career in 'BigData'?

There are 3 different kinds of things you can do in the big data space: 1. Infrastructure. This involves designing, deploying and maintaining the underlying infrastructure and software that entail a big data system. 2. Data Engineering. This i...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free

Share some stories about how you got into writing a book and how was the process? What were some ways your career changed after you wrote the 'HBase in Action' book. Do you recommend more people should think about writing books about the subject they know about?

I had been involved in the HBase project and community during graduate school and used HBase in a couple of projects at school and for my part time projects at Cisco. HBase didn’t have much momentum at the time and there were a few users in a smal...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free

Can you share some stories about mistakes that you mention. What happened and what you learned eventually?

This question has been the hardest by far and I have written the answer multiple times and scrapped it to go to write it again. I want to be authentic and appropriate about what I share. I have my share of mistakes over the years that I have learn...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free

What is the difference between a Software Architect and a Solutions Architect?

  That’s a great question. I see the two playing a similar role but from different perspectives. A Software Architect’s role is to help architect a product / software that the team / company sells to their customers (internal / external). A Solut...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free