NCR Brings MPP to Teradata for NT

NCR Corp., known for its massively scalable proprietary data warehouses, has been selling a version of its Teradata database for Windows NT for about a year.

With an installed base of six to 10 customers, the SMP version of Teradata for Windows NT has not taken off. This quarter, however, NCR is releasing an NT version that supports massively parallel processing (MPP) -- the approach that allows NCR’s Unix-based Teradata implementations to scale to 128 nodes for customers.

"Right now, NT in an enterprise space like we [sell in] is just starting to take off," says Carol Walter, NCR’s marketing manager for Teradata for Windows NT. "We will see the NT sales increase over time. We’re also seeing a lot of interest from our new customers and prospects that have already decided on NT for their enterprise."

In an MPP configuration, the database is spread across all the available nodes, with each node having a different segment of the data. Queries run across all the nodes at once and the database pulls all the results together. IBM Corp.’s DB2 and Oracle Corp.’s Oracle8i have also brought MPP approaches to databases running on Windows NT.

While the combination of NCR’s MP-RAS flavor of Unix, its WorldMark servers, and its Bynet interconnects theoretically allows up to 512 nodes, NCR’s Windows NT version is initially targeting scalability that is more in line with what other vendors are approaching on the platform.

"With this first release, we only support up to four [four-way] nodes, which is about a 1 TB database," Walter says. "Our architecture will allow us to grow bigger. It’s just a matter of certifying larger configurations."

These four-node configurations represent the low end for NCR, which holds many of the highest benchmark numbers for very large databases. Walter says probably more than 50 percent of NCR’s Teradata on MP-RAS customers maintain databases of greater than 1 TB, several are in the 30+ TB range, and one customer has more than 100 TB of data.

At the same time, NCR is not looking to sell the database to all comers on any respectable hardware platform loaded with Windows NT, like Microsoft sells SQL Server and Oracle sells Oracle8i. With the MPP version of Teradata, NCR also released WorldMark 4800 servers that run Windows NT. The solution will be sold as an integrated platform, with NCR services as an option. Pricing starts at $50,000 per node, the same amount NCR charges for its Unix version.

NCR says performance of the NT and MP-RAS versions of Teradata are similar in equivalent configurations. The Teradata for Windows NT upgrade, version 3.0.1, also adds NCR’s Administration Workstation, which provides a single view of an entire system for ease of administration, and ESCON Channel Connection, which provides a connection between an application server and a mainframe.