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Teradata does the grand refresh

No plans to operationalize HP

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It's time to get operationalizing*.

So went the call from Teradata as it revealed Version 12 of the Teradata Database and Version 6 of Relationship Manager. Both products, along with some new software tools and services, push Teradata closer to complementing its strength in "strategic intelligence" with fresh work on "operational excellence." Confused? We're here to help.

As Teradata sees it, so-called knowledge workers have been the main people tapping into its data warehouse systems. These flashy execs have pulled up information on shipments, marketing plans and profits and losses. Now, Teradata wants to give schlubs like call center workers, customers and partners access to crucial bits of data in the hopes that they'll use it to effect some manner of quick, operational change.

And so white collar data meets white collar (slightly tinged with blue) collar data.

One of our closest flirtations with understanding the operational excellence concept came in the Teradata Database 12 news statement. "Using a combination of historical data, analytics, and up-to-the-minute data, front-line employees can switch from making decisions based on assumptions and guesswork to decisions based on facts and corporate strategy."

Apparently this magic happens through some rather technical tweaks to Teradata Database 12.

For example, Teradata has revamped its data partitioning technology to give customers more choices when they're trying to divvy up information for quicker searching. Teradata first put out this technology – Partition Primary Index – three years ago and limited table partitioning to a few parameters such as date. With so-called Multi-Level Partitioning, customers can now sort data via things such as "state" or "product" and run queries up to 30 per cent faster in some instances.

Also on the speed front, Teradata popped out a next generation optimizer, an improved query rewriting function and revamped indexing. The query rewriting technology seems particularly useful as it will automatically rewrite less than adequate queries for the user in the hopes of returning better data faster.

A few other bits and pieces in Teradata 12 include support for Java stored procedures, a SQL bulk load tool and a hardened encryption algorithm. All told, Teradata chucked 37 new tools into the software with customers requesting 21 of the additions.

With Relationship Manager Version 6, customers will find a new web browser-based interface, which again is meant to give more people access to the detailed information stored in a data warehouse. You'll find a list of the additional tools in the new software package here.

Decore

Away from Teradata's flagship products, the company talked up some complementary code and services.

For example, Teradata pushed hard with its ServiceLink package that is sort of a marriage between software and services. With ServiceLink, a Teradata technician can dial into a customer's site via a VPN and perform the expected maintenance checks. This action can take place in a preemptive fashion with Teradata staff constantly monitoring hardware and software looking for potential failures such as a downed DIMM before they actually occur.

The remote management notion has been hit hard by the large hardware vendors in recent years as they try and grab hold of customer accounts with a bit more muscle.

The ServiceLink package fits into a broad set of similar technology captured under Teradata's new Availability Management Services (AMS) heading.

Terafuture

During a question and answer session, we pushed Teradata CEO Michael Koehler to elaborate on how the company can use its new independent status to perhaps throw R&D funds at some other fresh areas. Koehler, however, declined to take up our challenge, saying instead that he "just does not have a specific example" of any dazzling product plans.

Come on, Mike? No Netezza-like appliance up your sleeve?

Over a beer, Koehler might have responded, "Hell no!" but during the press conference he passed our query over to Chief Marketing Officer Darryl McDonald who extolled the virtues of Teradata's industry-standard hardware approach – the Xeon-based Teradata 5500 server.

As it happens, Koehler has not considered suing HP either – even though its CEO Mark Hurd used to run Teradata's former parent NCR and its CIO Randy Mott used to be one of Teradata's biggest customers when he held the CIO post at both Wal-Mart and Dell.

"We view HP and its Neoview (platform) just like we view all other competitors," Koehler said.

What's the point of having a large cash stockpile if you're not willing to burn some funds on blockbuster lawsuits?

From what we hear, Mott is using his rather immense contact network and some very sweet deals to try and undercut Teradata's base. So far, according to Teradata, Mott has failed with these actions.

Teradata must continue to contend with a variety of start-ups trying to attack the lower-end of its business such as Netezza and Dataupia. And then there are the big fellas like IBM, Oracle and HP going after the higher-end gear.

Teradata, however, strikes us as having its act together rather well and enjoying a singular focus on the data warehousing market. The big vendors cannot claim such attention to data warehousing and smaller vendors have yet to match Teradata from a technology standpoint. ®

* Yes, that's an actual word used in a Teradata presentation.

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