More on Teradata's SSD Speedster and (Cautious) Public-Cloud Offering - InformationWeek

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10/21/2009
11:24 AM
Doug Henschen
Doug Henschen
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More on Teradata's SSD Speedster and (Cautious) Public-Cloud Offering

Coming into this week's Teradata Partners user group conference in Washington D.C., I wanted to know more about the Teradata Extreme Performance Appliance 4555. This speedster is worth crowing about... but the announcement had all the power of a dim bulb compared to the bright spotlights cast in recent weeks by Oracle and IBM...

Coming into this week's Teradata Partners user group conference in Washington D.C., I wanted to know more about the Teradata Extreme Performance Appliance 4555. As the first-ever solid-state-disk (SSD) data warehouse appliance, this speedster is worth crowing about. But as I reported in this article, the announcement was only mentioned in passing during Monday's keynote. It was a dim bulb compared to the bright spotlights IBM and Oracle trained on their recent IBM Smart Analytic System and Exadata 2 launches, respectively.

Perhaps Teradata execs thought it would be best to lay low on salesmanship at a user-group event. And what I'm talking about here is the style of the announcement, not the substance. But, honestly, this is a battle for the top spot in data warehousing! Instead of having a Partners-emblazoned Camaro burst onto the stage, as happened during the opening keynote, I would have had the 4555 burst onto the stage and then offered comparisons of SSD vs. conventional-disk performance on complex, real-world queries.

For those who wanted to learn more about the 4555, there was a working demo in the exhibit hall. Scott Gnau, Chief Development Officer and head of Teradata Labs, also offered a briefing for analysts and media. Here are few highlights of what he had to say:

  • CPUs have gained 5 million times faster performance over the last 30 years while disk drive technology has improved only about 5 times, Gnau said. SSD's offer a 150X improvement in random I/Os per second over spinning disks.
  • Teradata didn't just stick flash drives into PCI slots to extend memory and improve caching, Gnau said, in an obvious dig against Oracle Exadata 2: "While that may be interesting for OLTP, it's not interesting for enterprise data warehousing. We're able to leverage this I/O per second increase for data warehouse and analytic workloads."
  • The 4555 will load up to 7 terabytes per hour and provide up to 50 terabytes of storage for what the company describes as "hyper analytics."

During various presentations this week, Teradata executives reiterated longstanding claims that the company is the only vendor focused on deliver on the promise of large-scale enterprise data warehousing with high concurrency and mixed workloads. But given Exadata 2 -- not to mention IBM and HP (Neoview) offerings -- isn't that claim a bit dated? Not at all, Gnau told me after the press briefing. He described Exadata 2 as scalable in terms of storage but constrained on query performance by the Oracle RAC component of its architecture. "RAC is still a single point of contention when loading and querying at the same time, when performing extreme data mining or when handing mixed queries and high numbers of concurrent users," he said.

Gnau also discussed Teradata's cloud computing announcements of this week, which I covered here. From my perspective, everything delivered for private-cloud deployment looks solid -- and as Curt Monash points out here, it delivers today what Greenplum has promised but has yet to deliver. Teradata Express for Amazon EC2, however, seems like an overly cautious first step into the public clouds. So what if, as Teradata execs claim, EC2 and other public clouds can't ensure production SLA performance! Teradata itself is pitching this as something for test, development and experimentation, so why should production expectations even apply?

Cloud computing has the potential to be a hugely disruptive force in the big-data market; Teradata Express for Amazon seems like an attempt to catch a tiger by the toe.Coming into this week's Teradata Partners user group conference in Washington D.C., I wanted to know more about the Teradata Extreme Performance Appliance 4555. This speedster is worth crowing about... but the announcement had all the power of a dim bulb compared to the bright spotlights cast in recent weeks by Oracle and IBM...

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