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Teradata puts feisty start-ups on notice with appliance charge

Grand kit refresh and free 12.0 tester

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Teradata, the big daddy of data warehousing, has finally responded to the appliance challenge by rolling out a new family of systems that cater to customers with various budgets.

Rather than shipping a single, beefy system, Teradata will now sell a range of gear that starts with the 550 SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) on the low-end at $67,000 per TB. Next, customers will find the mid-range 2500 at $125,000 per TB and then the high-end 5550 at $200,000 per TB. The company looks for this hardware to offset the attack of data warehouse appliance makers such as Netezza and DATAllegro.

Along with the fresh hardware, Teradata has added another twist. Those tempted by the magic of the Teradata 12.0 database engine can now try out the software for free or pay $40,000 to run it on the Windows box of their choosing. Those interested in the Express Edition will find it here.

To date, Teradata has mostly argued that basing the older 5500 system on "industry standard" Xeon chips kept it in a solid position with regard to price performance. But this new, more diverse gear seems to show that Teradata felt it needed to do a bit more to protect the middle parts of its business.

So, customers can now take the Teradata 12.0 database engine – the company's secret sauce – and slap it on the 550. This gives smaller customers a chance to get into data warehousing and larger players a test and development box.

The 550 runs on a pair of dual-core Xeon 5100 (2.66GHz) chips and supports Suse Enterprise Linux 9 (Wot? No 10?) and Windows Server 2003. The system also supports up to 8GB of memory, four 73GB SAS drives and six PCI slots. You're then meant to combine this server with some additional storage in a shared cabinet.

For a starting price of $67,000, you might have expected Teradata to include some four-core chips and a much higher memory support ceiling in this box. But, hey, this is Teradata's main answer to the appliance market, and appliances are all about getting higher margins on hardware. The company has followed the lead of its rivals well.

Teradata's web site and supporting documentation fails to provide much advice about how customers should position these boxes against each other, but we understand that the 550 can reach up to 6TB.

The mid-range 2500 counts as a proper "integrated" cabinet design that can handle a 6TB data warehouse on its own or be linked with up to 24 of its peers to form a 146TB unit.

It again runs on dual-core 2.66GHz Xeons, but we're not told how many. In addition, the system supports Teradata's BYNET interconnect and ships with a number of other packages, including Parallel Transporter Load and Export Operators for data loading; Meta Data Services and Administrator for management; and SQL Assistant and Basic Teradata Query Utility for SQL generation.

Basically, this system is Teradata's entry to a serious data warehouse-in-a-can. The company boasts that just about anyone could turn this thing on and have a data warehouse running in minutes. So, for some fun around the office, order up one of these suckers, pound a keg and throw a configuration party. (Blows to the head and blindfolds are optional.)

When you want to teach your inventory database a lesson, you step up to the 5550, which Teradata says is twice as fast as its predecessor thanks to new Xeons. This system again ships in cabinet form, and you can fill the cabinet with three different kinds of boards. The entry level E board holds up to two Xeon chips and can be paired with another E board. The C "Coexistence" board holds just one Xeon but can be linked with up to 1,024 other boards, while the H "High Performance" board can hold up to two Xeons (four-core chips available here) and connect with 1,024 of its brethren through multiple cabinets. The 5550 is what you have come to expect from Teradata in that the box works as a hulking data warehouse beast with speedy BYNET interconnects, big-time memory support and fault tolerant parts. You'll find the full specifications here.

Having looked over the new hardware, Netezza executives have come out saying that they're glad that Teradata has finally recognized the success of the data warehouse appliance market by deciding to enter it. Such rhetoric is a bit rich since Teradata pioneered data warehousing in the first place.

Teradata's good name has afforded it the ability to charge top dollar for its sexy software. And customers looking to tackle the hardest data warehousing jobs don't mind paying for what they view as the best kit on the market.

Netezza and others have seized on the growth of data warehousing as a whole and tried to cater to those customers who want to explore the technology without paying for a Wal-Mart-capable system. Now it would seem that Teradata is more prepared to go after these same types of customers.

We still feel for those of you trying to get a handle on the state of the data warehouse market. Even the entry-level systems here start at $70,000, and that price results in a two-way server and some storage showing up at your shipping dock. Other entry-level units come in at about $250,000.

With IBM, HP, Oracle, Sun and a host of start-ups eyeing this market, you can expect those entry-level prices to just keep going down. So, ultimately, there's hope in sight that data warehousing technology will become more available and easier to grasp for the common man business.

The Teradata press release is here. ®

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