Teradata, which practically invented the enterprise data warehouse, has always been a company where engineering came up front. Company veterans and longtime customers knew Teradata products by their model numbers; a 6800 told you that you were using a giant enterprise data warehouse, as opposed to a 2800 that was sized for departments.
As longtime data warehouse provider, Teradata was the go-to box for complex SQL analytic queries across large bodies of data. So it’s not surprising that in recent years, emergence of commodity hardware and open source infrastructure posed an existential threat. While Teradata’s optimizations of its mature SQL engine, designed to handle complex queries, extended down to processor and backplane, commodity alternatives promise brute force alternatives that could be considered “good enough.”
Today, Teradata provides superior service levels to Hadoop. For now, it continues to maintain a highly diverse line of workload-optimized appliances that, because of their specialized natures, will never be cost-competitive to commodity hardware. And over the long run, Hadoop will improve its performance, although using an underlying file system it will never be as efficient as true databases like Teradata, Oracle , SQL Server, DB2, or any of the wide breed of SQL columnar analytic databases.
But Teradata has a trick up its sleeve with its recently-unveiled Intelliflex architecture that makes its hardware become software-defined. While Teradata appliances are likely never to be as cheap as commodity hardware, Intelliflex provides the company a path to getting better economies of scale that will make it more price-competitive by consolidating its varied portfolio of workload-optimized specialized appliances with more standard, configurable designs.
The past year saw the company changing senior management, divesting some assets, and refocusing on several new themes that are opening access to Teradata in the cloud, and doubling down on solutions to reach beyond the company’s traditional IT constituency to the business, which signs the checks.
“Teradata Everywhere” and “Borderless Analytics” are branding that signify how Teradata is making its technology more widely accessible. In part, it refers to the new unbundling of Aster as analytics software, which we reviewed a couple weeks back. It also describes Teradata’s new, broadened cloud focus. It’s the next step of a strategy that debuted with the Teradata Managed Cloud just over a year ago where Teradata hosts your analytic appliance in a single-tenanted deployment redolent of the old application service provider model.
Now Teradata is also making itself available in the public cloud, initially on Amazon, and later, on Microsoft Azure. Teradata is prepackaging templates for some of the most common cloud use cases, including cloud bursting (bursting on premise workloads to the cloud as safety valve); data lab (for testing new analytics use cases or scenarios); and disaster recovery (where the cloud is used for backup).
Teradata’s cloud strategy is not all that unusual compared to other IT household names; IBM, Oracle, and SAP are also going there because that’s where customers are headed. There are subtle and not so subtle differences in the way that each is supporting the cloud. For instance, Teradata diverges from Oracle with with a single-tenanted rather than multi-tenanted model; but both share the common thread of making deployment as transparent as possible from on premise, so you can run the same bits on both ends.