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Gartner Ranks Data Warehousing Leaders

Magic Quadrant puts Teradata in the top spot with Oracle and IBM close behind. Report sees growing interest in column-store, in-memory and cloud-based technologies.

Demand for data warehousing (DW) technologies held steady in 2010 even as many other IT categories retrenched in a tough economy. That's the macro take detailed in Gartner's just-released "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Data Management Systems."

Despite steady demand, the DW market is far from static. Three key players, Greenplum, Netezza and Sybase, where acquired in 2010, and the consolidation is likely to continue, says Gartner. What's more, column-store, in-memory and cloud-based databases may have a disruptive impact on the market.

What has been stable has been the top three spots in Gartner's Magic Quadrant (MQ). Teradata is once again in the top-right position, highest on the vertical "ability-to-execute" axis and farthest right on the horizontal "completeness of vision" axis. It's followed by Oracle and IBM, which have been in the number-two and number-three spots for years.

The MQ details "strengths" and "cautions" on every vendor included in the report. Teradata's strengths include its flexible systems management software and its mature capability to integrate advanced analytics, says Gartner.

Teradata has positioned its 2650 appliance against competitors IBM Netezza and Oracle Exadata, but Gartner cautions that customers aren't quite clear on when to choose the appliance over Teradata's enterprise-class platform. What's more, the appliance doesn't always stand out in performance when tests and planned uses don't involve highly mixed workloads -- long a strong suit for Teradata.

Oracle strengths include its commanding (48%) share of the relational database market and its Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) technology. Gartner says RAC ensures high availability while also serving as the foundation for scaling out the Exadata Database Machine. Oracle eased administration with its 11g database upgrade through improved materialized view and cube management and an added Partition Advisor that suggests best configurations to maximize performance.

Gartner described the 11g upgrades as strengths, yet it also cautions that many customers say Oracle database administrative demands are higher than some competitive products. Another Oracle caution: Watch out for contract and pricing practices including "high prices, uneven and wide-ranging discounts, increasing software audits, high cost of maintenance and reluctance to negotiate on renewals," according to the report.

IBM's DB2-based products and acquired Netezza products are covered separately in the MQ report (with the former ranked third on the quadrant). IBM is the only database vendor that can offer an information architecture spanning all systems, Gartner notes. That includes OLTP, DW and retirement of data (the last covered by Optim products). IBM has also embraced Hadoop through InfoSphere BigInsights, which Gartner says gives DW managers confidence that IBM products are evolving to meet new demands.

The key caution on IBM's DB2 portfolio? There don't seem to be enough architects and DBAs to go around. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that IBM has been more selective about the projects it goes after. Not counting Netezza, IBM's market share declined about 0.7% while Oracle's declined about 1.8% in 2010, Gartner reports.

The three other vendors in the MQ top-right leaders quadrant are the three key vendors acquired in 2010: Sybase (by SAP), Netezza (by IBM) and Greenplum (by EMC). Sybase is a bit more of a visionary, as positioned by Gartner, while the last two are in fairly equal position.

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