Teradata used to tell a one-size-fits-all Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) story. That’s no longer the case. Last year, Teradata introduced a range of products. I think Teradata is serious about selling its full product range, and by now has achieved buy-in from its sales force for that strategy. I base these beliefs on data points such as:
- Teradata says so, repeatedly and persuasively.
- At least in passing, Teradata cites non-trivial sales figures for the appliance product lines.
- Competitors are less unanimous in asserting that Teradata’s lower-end products are presented on just a bait-and-switch basis.
But that raises the question: How does Teradata pitch the advantages of its top-end product line these days? At least at the corporate level, the answer seems to focus less on the “EDW” concept than it used to, and more on “Active.” Teradata – which actually has been talking about “Active Data Warehousing” for about a decade — indeed calls its top-end 55xx series the “Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse.”
Teradata proudly told me that it has >100 customers who have truly adopted an “Active” EDW. When we discussed what that meant, supported by a whole lot of named examples, it became clear that “Active” data warehousing:
- Has a lot in common with “operational” analytics
- Is most often but not always used in customer-facing applications
- Has three main technical themes:
- Low latency
- High concurrency
- Robust uptime
Business rules and/or “exception-based” processing also seem to play a significant role, which is of course a good fit for the “operational” theme.
Other kinds of use cases cited included:
- Transportation and logistics
- General BI at Teradata itself and former parent company NCR
Also, Teradata was able to quickly cite examples in both social network analysis and anti-fraud — but not in the use of social network analysis for law enforcement or fraud fighting.
How low is the latency? Well, the lowest-latency use case I recall is Travelocity’s, which believes the queries supporting web personalization need to resolve in 300 milliseconds or less, with >2 second response being a “Failure”. But figures as low as 15-30 milliseconds got bandied around in conversation. At the other extreme, I’d guess plenty of customers in that >100 count have latency requirements no more demanding than a few minutes; in some cases perhaps even a couple of hours would be OK.
Anyhow, we’re not talking about CEP (Complex Event/stream Processing). But at least for the customer-facing apps, we are indeed talking about fast query response. And , in the one part of the pitch that really does sound like the old EDW story, Teradata stresses that this fast query response should occur even in the face of mixed workloads — i.e., Teradata makes a case for the relevance of strong workload management. Not coincidentally, workload management is the “only” software difference between Teradata’s “Active Enterprise Data Warehouse” 55xx series and the rest of the Teradata product line.
Of course, Teradata isn’t alone in telling the “Active” data warehousing story. Active data warehousing – although not necessarily by that name – is where HP tends to focus Neoview. It also is a lot like what Aster Data calls “Frontline” data warehousing, although Aster generally puts more emphasis on uptime and less on concurrency. And anybody telling a one-size-fits-all DBMS story – e.g., about Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, or DB2 – will surely cite “Active” concepts at times as well.