Teradata Revamps DW for SOA, BI

Warehouse 8.0 boasts much of the plumbing that organizations will need to support service-oriented architectures

When most people think about high-end data warehouses, one name comes to mind: Teradata, a division of NCR Corp.

Last week, Teradata announced Warehouse 8.0, the next major release of its data warehouse. While Teradata’s product has always been a strong performer in decision support applications, officials say that version 8.0 boasts even better performance.

Of course, if Teradata has its way, the company could soon be foremost in the minds of organizations that are trying to massively scale BI solutions based on multi-terabyte data warehouses to thousands of end users. That’s because the revamped Teradata Warehouse boasts much of the plumbing—including support for event-specific database triggers—organizations will need to support their service-oriented architecture (SOA) efforts.

The upshot, says Randy Lea, vice-president of products and services for Teradata, is that Warehouse 8.0 can replace third-party BI tools for some applications. He cites the example of a commercial airliner that’s delayed on the tarmac at an airport, perhaps nth in a long queue of planes waiting to take off. In this situation, Lea says, airlines are most concerned about upsetting frequent flyers or business-class passengers on the plane—especially if they’ve experienced one or more delays in their recent flight history.

Thanks to Warehouse 8.0’s support for event-specific triggers, companies can compare near-real-time data—i.e., the list of passengers on the airplane that’s been delayed—with historical information (flights that were delayed in the past, along with the passengers that were on them), filtering out customers that have experienced one or more delays over a 60-day period, for example. “We can now load data continuously into the warehouse, and the warehouse can detect events like a delayed routing in the air, and that would kick off some triggers, or some stored procedures to find out who’s on the plane, or how many platinum customers are on the plane,” he explains.

Lea adds, however, that Teradata doesn’t believe BI tools are going away—just that they’ll have a more precisely delineated niche: “I don’t think the BI space will go away by any means. There is still a need for reporting, pushing out reports, etc, and that will always be there.”

Third-party BI tools work just fine for these sorts of applications, Lea acknowledges, but it just makes more sense to perform them in the data warehouse, where everything—the near-real-time loading of data, event-specific triggers, analytics, and so forth—can be done with a single copy of the data. What’s more, he argues, it also helps business decision-makers—as well as leaders in specific business domains—get closer to the data.

“Organizations today have fixed business processes that are primarily driven by the operational aspects of implementing that business process, and what we’ll be able to do is insert processes that are more analytical processes into those operational environments,” says Lea. “So at the point of decision, you can automatically fire off a request to go take a look upstream or do predictive analysis on particular events.”

On top of its BI- and SOA-readiness, Warehouse 8.0 includes Teradata Replication Services, which lets users capture database changes in real time and replicate them to another database to ensure high availability. The upshot, officials say, is that customers can tap Teradata’s own Dual Active Solution to enable a hot “backup” database that’s part of a production environment and shares the workload. “As we are facing more real-time or near-real-time requirements, this gives [customers] the ability to have a dual-active solution, which is a lot better than just having one server sit idle,” says Lea.

Unlike most of its competitors, Teradata is both a hardware and a software proposition, which helps (in part) to explain its success in the high-end data warehousing space: The Teradata database and other applications are tweaked to perform on the NCR servers that are sold with them. To some extent, however, this approach has limited Teradata’s adoption among customers who perceive it as a more costly and less flexible solution.

Lea and other Teradata officials expect that Warehouse 8.0 will address this issue, largely by giving organizations a can’t-miss incentive—in the form of SOA-readiness, canned business intelligence capabilities, or best-in-class performance and availability—to give Teradata a first or second look.

Warehouse 8.0 isn’t Teradata’s first attempt at outreach, however: The company has taken several steps over the last twelve months to raise its profile outside of its traditional customer base, including notching partnerships with SAP AG and Siebel Systems Inc. to expose its data warehousing technology to users of their application software. Earlier this year, Teradata also announced a Data Warehouse Maturity Assessment service to help organizations maximize their data warehousing and BI investments.

Wayne Eckerson, director of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI), says the SAP and Siebel partnerships are naturals for Teradata, especially in view of their traditionally strong account control. Eckerson says Teradata faces many challenges—including internal political objections to maintaining a "non-standard" RDBMS or non-standard hardware—but believes momentum may be on the data warehousing giant’s side. “The market is coming to Teradata in terms of requirements for analyzing large volumes of detailed data and centralizing the processing of that data. They keep scoring new customers and wins because only they do what they do,” he points out.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.