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Teradata in the Cloud: World-Class Analytics for Companies of all Sizes

Originally published January 11, 2016

This BeyeNETWORK article features Ron Powell’s interview with Brian Wood. Ron is an independent consultant and analyst, and Brian is director of cloud marketing at Teradata. Ron and Brian discuss the analytics options for cloud deployment of the Teradata Database on Amazon Web Services.

Teradata recently made a major cloud announcement. Can you tell us about it?

Brian Wood: We announced that Teradata Database will be available on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the first quarter of 2016. This is a really big deal for us. It opens the market for Teradata Database to a much broader audience than what we currently have now. The largest and most successful companies on the planet use Teradata to run their businesses. In the public cloud on AWS, Teradata Database is opened to a much broader range of potential customers in an hourly, pay-as-you-go type format. It makes it much more accessible. 

This is disruptive for Teradata because for over 35 years, we have had these highly engineered systems with the software and the underlying hardware platform tightly coupled, highly engineered for maximum performance. Putting our software in a virtualized environment where the compute and storage resources are not tightly integrated with the software is a major change for us, not only technology wise but also in how we support the product and how we think about the services that we offer with it. It’s very different for us. This is a big announcement. We’re very excited about it, and we think it is going to be one of many steps that help change the company.

What type of customers might want to take advantage of the availability of the Teradata Database on AWS and do analytics in the cloud?

Brian Wood: All types. We have Teradata Cloud now. This next offering is Teradata in the public cloud on AWS. In both cases, it can be used by any customer type – whether small, medium or large and regardless of vertical market. We have customers and prospects all across the board. For example, Netflix is one of our marquis Teradata Cloud customers. They famously have moved all of their IT operations out of data centers and into the cloud. They’re an example where there are massive amounts of data in AWS, and they use Teradata Cloud for their advanced analytics. They’re an all-in type customer. 

We also have companies like Core Digital Media, which is an existing Teradata Appliance customer, and they use Teradata Cloud for disaster recovery. Rather than a physical secondary data center, they use Teradata Cloud for their secondary instance. 

We have companies like BevMo!, a west coast retailer of alcoholic beverages and all of the party fixings that go with it. They do their production analytics using Teradata Cloud.

We have Premise Health, an on-premises healthcare provider. Healthcare companies, like financial and insurance companies, are highly regulated. There are strong security and privacy concerns, but we’ve got them covered in the cloud environment. They use Teradata Cloud.

You can see it’s a whole range of different types of companies. And it’s the same software whether it is our purpose-built, managed environment in Teradata Cloud or on AWS. It is the same thing. It is appropriate for all companies. If they’re focused on advanced analytics and want the very best in Teradata, then they can get it through these services in the cloud.

Wow – Netflix. I look at Teradata’s scale. With what Netflix is pushing across, scale is really important.

Brian Wood: It’s huge. And that’s one thing about cloud – you have virtually unlimited scalability, especially in the public cloud where bringing up new compute and storage instances can be done with just a click of a button or an automated script. A big reason why cloud services are so exciting to companies is because of the ability to go big when needed, bring it back down when not needed, or turn it off and only pay for what you use. It used to be that you’d have to buy for your high-tide mark, and a lot of those resources were left underutilized most of the time. Now, you can pay only for what you use. You can scale up – not just a little bit, but massively – and then bring it back down to zero. That type of capability never existed before cloud services. 

It is very exciting for us and for our customers.

Are there any tradeoffs associated with doing analytics in the cloud?

Brian Wood: There is no silver bullet for anything. I would say that the biggest tradeoff is really between performance and flexibility. The on-premises, highly engineered platforms – our enterprise-class platforms and our appliances – have maximum performance because there is the tight coupling between the software and the underlying hardware resources. Teradata Database uses 100% of the available compute capacity – you’re not going to get any better than that. But, on the other hand, cloud services provide massive flexibility – to be able to bring up, bring down, and pay as you go. Many customers have data sources that are already in the cloud or there is partner software that they want to connect to that may be on-premises or cloud-based. There is a lot more flexibility there than in a physical system in a data center. That’s really the tradeoff. I think of it like a Slinky – you move your hand up and down and you’ve got performance and flexibility. 

We expect most customers will have a hybrid deployment. They’re going to have some workloads on premises, some in the purpose-built managed environment of Teradata Cloud, and then some in the public clouds. It’s not necessarily that it will be production on premises, QA in the managed environment and test/dev in the public cloud. It will be mix and match depending on the customers and their priorities and resources. And it might evolve over time. The cool thing about it is that it is the very same Teradata Database software in all of these deployment modes. It’s not like we have a scaled-back version. It’s the very same. There is no lost investment. If you develop things for one environment, you just simply port it over to the other and you’re off and running.

It’s really giving your customers a lot of options, a lot of alternatives, to how they do their business.

Brian Wood: That’s right. And customers have been asking for this. They want more flexibility in deployment choices. But it’s also a huge market opportunity for us. By lowering the financial barrier to cloud entry, in general, is transforming capital expense – the huge up-front investment of a purchased product – over to operational expense – a subscription that is spread over time. This is similar to renting an apartment, a house or a car. You’re able to get into something that you could never do if you had to buy it outright. But if you can pay for it on a monthly basis and amortize it over time, that opens up a whole range of options. And it is the same thing with Teradata. Traditionally, we have had the very largest customers in the world, and now with these cloud services, it opens us up to small and medium businesses – new markets and new areas that we didn’t have access to before.

Thank you, Brian, for this interesting discussion on Teradata and the cloud.

  • Ron PowellRon Powell
    Ron is an independent analyst, consultant and editorial expert with extensive knowledge and experience in business intelligence, big data, analytics and data warehousing. Currently president of Powell Interactive Media, which specializes in consulting and podcast services, he is also Executive Producer of The World Transformed Fast Forward series. In 2004, Ron founded the BeyeNETWORK, which was acquired by Tech Target in 2010.  Prior to the founding of the BeyeNETWORK, Ron was cofounder, publisher and editorial director of DM Review (now Information Management). He maintains an expert channel and blog on the BeyeNETWORK and may be contacted by email at rpowell@powellinteractivemedia.com. 

    More articles and Ron's blog can be found in his BeyeNETWORK expert channel.

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