Teradata appliances

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Teradata has finally released what it calls “a family of platforms” for its Teradata 12 database. I say “finally” because the buzz around the industry was that this announcement, or at least that of the company’s “appliance”, was to be have been made some time ago.

The actual models announced consist of the Teradata 550, which is an entry-level SMP (symmetric multi-processing) based system that scales up to 6 Terabytes; the Teradata 2500, which is shipped as an appliance; and the Teradata 5550, which is the company’s active data warehouse. Prices for these systems start at $67,000 per terabyte for the 550, $125,000 per terabyte for the 2500 and $200,000 for the 5550. You can’t have more than one 550 within a single configuration but you can have multiple 2500s: up to a total of 146Tb. In addition, the company has also announced Teradata Express, which is a free developer version of Teradata 12 (the company’s database) that can be used on Windows servers and laptops.

So, how competitive is this? Well, the 550 runs on a pair of dual-core Xeon processors, which is sort of surprising when you consider that people like DATAllegro have been running quad-core for some time now. But, hey, DATAllegro doesn’t compete much at this end of the market. If you want performance for large amounts of data then you really need an MPP (massively parallel processing) engine and not an SMP one, though the 550 could well be useful for development and testing. On the other hand, if performance is important and this is all the money you have to spend then you would be better off looking at someone like ParAccel or a low-end Netezza system. On the other hand, if you can get away with an SMP system in performance terms then why not stick with SQL Server?

As far as most appliance vendors are concerned it is the 2500 that they will be looking at. This is similarly based on dual-core processors so the likes of DATAllegro will still look down their noses at it. Some people will also argue that the 2500 uses proprietary technology in the form of Bynet which, however well proven, is still proprietary—as it happens I don’t rate this argument much but I know some people do. However, most particularly, it is the price point that seems surprising: $1m for an 8Tb system is a lot of money in today’s market.

Of course the 5550 is even more costly. And the interesting question will be how Teradata persuades its customers that they need a 5550 as opposed to a 2500? After all, it wouldn’t want anyone downgrading from their existing system. Teradata has a fine line to tread between competing with upstarts like Netezza and DATAllegro on the one hand, and not cannibalising its existing business on the other. I wish Teradata luck but I am not sure, in this case, that such a line even exists.