With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that Teradata is at the center of a trend in the information management market toward broader availability and acceptance of a range of data appliances. Teradata has been in what’s now called the appliance business for decades, but only in the last decade have other vendors, beginning with Netezza in 2000, recognized an opportunity to compete in the appliance segment. Reflecting on the Teradata Partners event, including the announcements and the customers I met, it occurred to me that Teradata has unique breath of products, which it calls a family of appliances, an appropriate label because they share a common set of software (with the exception of the products recently acquired with Aster Data). I’m sure IBM would like to position its appliances as similarly broad, but its “family” of appliances is more like cousins than siblings. They are independent product offerings with different software, and each addresses a different portion of the market.
In this context of a family of products, the announcements surrounding the Teradata Partners meeting can be divided into two groups: enhancements to individual appliances and new features related to the whole family. Several announcements covered features of the upcoming Teradata 14, including newcolumnar capabilities, extended analytic capabilities and Teradata Unity to tie together various parts of the Teradata product family. Unity provides query routing and database synchronization among different Teradata instances in an organization and also distinguishes the Teradata offerings as a family. With Unity you can query all of them as a single instance. Behind the scenes it routes the query to the appropriate instance based on which system has the data and the availability of that system. Unity also maintains consistency among individual database instances, and all or portions of a database can be synchronized across different machines. Unity does not require Teradata 14 and is available now in the Americas. The workload management capabilities of Teradata Active System Management (TASM) are separate from Unity, but I hope to see integration of these two sets of capabilities in the future.
In conjunction with Partners, Teradata announced the 2690 Data Warehouse appliance, scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2012. The 2690 replaces the 2650 in the product line. It adds new compression capabilities and offloads compression and decompression tasks to a co-processor. With the enhanced compression the 2690 can hold more data and consume less power while managing the same workload as its predecessor. Also right next to the 2690 on the exhibit floor was NetApp showing its Hadoop applianceannounced earlier this year and the integration of it to the Teradata family of big data appliances.
Another announcement says that early next year the Aster product line will be enhanced with version 5.0, the introduction of a MapReduce appliance and an adaptor for moving data between Teradata and Aster systems. The 5.0 product includes more prebuilt analytic functions based on Aster’s SQL-MapReduce capabilities and enhances workload management for balancing SQL and MapReduce tasks. In addition, the Unity framework will be extended to incorporate the MapReduce appliance, integrating the Aster products into the analytical ecosystem and making them less of an orphan in the Teradata family.
The Aster MapReduce appliance will compete with other recently announced MapReduce appliances from EMC Greenplum and Oracle. However, the Aster version is based on its own, patented SQL-MapReduce implementation rather than the open source Apache Hadoop project. SQL-MapReduce has the advantage of making MapReduce more accessible to SQL programmers and SQL-based applications. However, it is not supported by the larger community surrounding Hadoop MapReduce. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will be successful on a large scale or SQL-MapReduce will turn out to be the black sheep of the Teradata family. Nevertheless, Teradata has an impressive set of appliances for different purposes that earn the designation of family.