Teradata Nabs DecisionPoint for Performance Management
DPS gives Teradata a bona-fide financial performance management stack, but officials insist Teradata is not a BI or BPM contender
Last week, data warehousing giant Teradata (a division of NCR Corp.) jumped into the performance management space with the acquisition of DecisionPoint Software (DPS), a provider of financial performance management software designed primarily for Oracle Corp.’s ERP stack.
DPS gives Teradata a bona-fide financial performance management stack, including a data integration component (in the form of an ETL capability that supports change data capture features); a finance-centric data warehouse configuration; and an end-user analytic environment that supports collaborative analysis and reporting. With this in mind, Teradata officials—mindful of that company’s traditions of partnering and collaboration with BI and BPM players – seemed anxious to clearly frame Teradata’s ambitions. “We’re not trying to get into the general purpose ETL space. That wasn’t the purpose of the acquisition, and all of our ETL partners get that. The same thing in the BI space—we’re not trying to get into the BI space. Our BI partners understand that, too” says Jeff Lovett, director of financial management solutions with Teradata.
It’s a legitimate concern. After all, DPS’ DecisionCast product does comprise an end-user analytic toolset. It supports reporting, dashboarding and alerting; drill-down and drill across functionality; and boasts Microsoft Excel export capabilities. What’s more, DecisionCast ships with a number of canned reports and queries. And even though DPS has been careful to position DecisionCast as a complement to third-party best-of-breed BI tools (Hyperion Solutions Corp. is a partner, for example), there’s a chance—albeit slim—that some BI vendors might have concerns. “The DecisionCast technology is definitely competitive with some of the partner offerings, [because] the DecisionCast technology seems to be a suite of BI Tools,” says Mike Schiff, a principal with data warehousing and BI consultancy MAS Strategies.
At the same time, Schiff sees the acquisition as mostly upside for Teradata. “It’s a good thing for Teradata overall because it obviously brings them closer to one of their analytic applications partners while potentially depriving Oracle of a partnership. Plus, it gives them a chance to convert some of Oracle’s Financial applications customers to Teradata warehouse.”
Lovett says Teradata plans to incorporate the DecisionPoint technologies into its product stack. While the DecisionPoint name will go away, the DPS tools themselves will retain their original branding. In addition, says Lovett, Teradata will more tightly integrate and optimize DPS’ Oracle Financial sourcing capabilities with Teradata’s core data warehouse technologies. Going forward, Lovett says, Teradata will continue to support Oracle’s database platform in addition to its own. “In terms of product direction, it runs on a dual platform, both on Teradata and Oracle, and we will maintain both those code bases and support for the Oracle platform as well,” he comments. “We’re obviously not going to be actively marketing it for the Oracle platform, but there may be others who do. There were some third parties marketing that for Oracle, and we’d just as soon have them continue to do that.”
To be sure, Lovett acknowledges, DecisionPoint’s DecisionCast is a mostly full-featured end-user toolset. But Teradata doesn’t plan to do much—if anything—with the DecisionCast technologies, which Lovett describes as a “light” BI capability. “That’s not the focus of our acquisition. Our plan is to not market that going forward because we’re not interested in being in the BI space, but we are interested in incorporating the [enabling] intellectual property and the business logic of [DecisionPoint] into the data warehouse, where it can be leveraged by industry standard BI tools like Hyperion.”
To that end, Lovett says, Teradata plans to incorporate DPS’ SourceExperts ETL capability and Financial Performance Warehouse into its data warehousing platform. “This is the stuff that’s less sexy in some respects, but it’s more core to what we do,” he comments, citing—for example—SourceExperts’ support for data integration and change capture. “What SourceExperts does is a predefined, pre-mapped ETL capability out of Oracle financials that automatically populates the warehouse and has change data capture capability that identifies when a change occurs on the source and then repopulates that in the warehouse.”
Once these technologies have been brought into the Teradata fold, third-party BI vendors can also take advantage of them, Lovett claims. Teradata wins, he says, by evolving as a best-of-breed platform for financial performance management. “You can have functional views that various functions in finance would want to look at, [and] those views, then, get populated from the data warehouse and could be picked up by a third-party BI tool.”
Schiff says Teradata’s move should help to augment its analytic stack, which includes a respected CRM practice. In light of increasing competition from Oracle, IBM Corp., Netezza Inc. and now DATAllegro Inc., diversification is a smart move for Teradata, he says. “The market for high-end data warehouse vendors is becoming more and more competitive, with vendors like Netezza and vendors like Oracle and IBM, and even Microsoft increasingly adding capabilities to their database,” he concludes.
Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.