There are bridges that can take you from point to point, and there are bridges that can put you onto varied routes, heading off in all directions.

Two software companies have chosen these different paths with releases in late May. The first path was taken by JNBridge, which created a software kit for .NET developers to directly program to the Java-based Hadoop Big-Data system. The second was taken by BigLever Software, which rolled out version 7 of its Gears product-line engineering software with an API that enables a number of different companies to integrate with the Gears framework.

JNBridge has been creating these software kits (the company calls them Labs) for several different integrations, and this latest kit helps .NET users create mappers and reducers for Hadoop.

Before this solution, according to JNBridge CTO Wayne Citrin, .NET programmers would have to use the Hadoop streaming with standard input and output, but he noted that that carries the overhead of parsing, which is where the possibility of errors can be introduced.

“We want to let [developers] run .NET MapReducers in process with the rest of Hadoop’s processes,” he said. “This opens direct Hadoop programming to non-Java developers.”

As of now, Citrin said, Microsoft does not have a true Big-Data solution. The company’s research arm began the Dryad Project (for allowing programs to scale from a small cluster to a large data center), but, he said, “That seems to have died on the vine.” Now, he said, Microsoft has contracted with Hortonworks to implement a version of Hadoop that will run in the Azure cloud platform, but even that is still a Java-based solution.

“The way you use non-Java languages [with Hadoop], the main support is with JavaScript,” said Citrin. “That gets translated into Pig Latin (the high-level Hadoop language), but we don’t like the cross-compilation approach, as that can introduce errors.”

Meanwhile, BigLever’s PLE Bridge API allows a company such as IBM, for instance, to create bridges from its development tools to the Gears PLE Lifecycle Framework that are IBM-branded and that IBM can set up on its own. “We want to open up an ecosystem with more players in the mix, instead of us doing the whole thing,” said Charles Krueger, CEO of BigLever. He cited IBM and MKS as two companies that are hearing from their customers that they want a product-line engineering solution, which helps companies manage the feature variations for different versions of software, from requirements, modeling and design, through to coding and testing.

The PLE Bridge API is built on a RESTful architecture, Krueger said, and the Gears Bridge SDK, which organizations would use to create the bridges, includes documentation, examples, code fragments and icons that developers need to build the bridges. The bridges can be embedded in software as a COM object (for example), or can be used as a client-side bridge talking to an external server, he explained.