Teradata puts the swagger back in its step

From a technology focused company, Teradata took big strides in the past year to become more customer focused. It embraced open source technologies, the cloud and software defined analytics. Teradata also made a foray into consulting services.

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Photo Credit : Brian Pereira, Brian Pereira, Brian Pereira, Brian Pereira, Brian Pereira,

The light rain played spoilsport in Nice, France in the days preceding Teradata Universe 2017. But the sun came out as we moved into the sprawling Acropolis convention centre on day one of the conference. There were a few clouds in the sky too. Perhaps all this was a sign of things to come for Teradata – sunny days, new business opportunities and of course, cloud computing! Many changes have occurred in the past year at Teradata. In fact, energy levels at Teradata Universe were at an all-time high this year.

Victor LundThe optimism was reflected in Teradata CEO Victor Lund’s opening remarks. Directing a comment at employees he said, “Put the swagger back in your step. I want you to believe in yourself and know that you represent the very best in the areas in which we work.”

Teradata Universe EMEA 2017 was held in Nice, France April 2 – 5. This annual event brings together the Teradata ecosystem of customers, partners, developers, ISVs, Teradata executives, analysts and press. It is a time to reflect on the year gone by, and to make some new product and strategic announcements. The theme for this year’s event was: Data. Analytics. Business Outcomes.

Teradata executives made it clear at the outset that this was not a technology conference. Rather, it was all about helping Teradata customers derive better business outcomes.

“We spent the last year developing a strategy whereby the customer comes into focus. We talked about Hadoop and other technology to our customers, and introduced new pricing options. We spent time trying to understand what our customers want, and how we could help with analytics, and creating new deployment options on the technology side, to help our customers. We have also managed to re-energize our folks (employees),” said Lund.

Lund said that Teradata was not just embracing cutting-edge technologies and pushing it to customers. Rather, it focused its efforts on explaining  to customers how technology works, how it all comes together, and how it could help improve business outcome.

Summing it up he said, “If we don’t move forward, then we move back.”

In the past year the company has bravely done what it never attempted before: embrace open source & Hadoop and made a move to the cloud and software defined architecture. It also made a foray into Big Data consulting and business intelligence consulting services. That meant making more investment in R&D and acquisitions like Think Big Analytics and Claraview. The company has been hiring busloads of data scientists and business consultants.

Peter MikkelsenPeter Mikkelsen, EVP, International, Teradata, a long-time veteran in the company, said he had never seen so many changes happening in the history of the company.

“The last year has brought more change than the preceding 10 years. It has certainly brought the swagger back and there is a lot more engagement from our own folks,” said Mikkelsen. “We are dealing with the largest customers in the world who have the most complex issues in analytics, so technology is very important.” 

So what exactly does Teradata do, and how is it helping customers?

Those who have been tracking technology will know that Teradata provides Data warehouse solutions. A data warehouse is a large central repository of business data with data drawn from various sources – databases, email, CRM, SCM, MRP, inventory, ERP systems etc. Once the data is consolidated in the data warehouse, it can be analysed and various reports can be generated.

Teradata plays in the area of business analytics and business intelligence. It delivers technology-enabled solutions in areas ranging from operational excellence and asset optimization, to customer experience and product innovation, to finance transformation and risk mitigation.

For a long time, Teradata sold hardware boxes (integrated solution) to do data warehousing.  Well, the hardware boxes are still around, but now Teradata is becoming more software defined and moving to the cloud. It’s also offering business analytics services and ecosystem architecture consulting.

Enterprises are faced with the challenge of analysing massive amounts of data, gathered from transactions, customer tracking, and business operations. They need analytics solutions that can turn that data into valuable and timely insights to drive business decisions and compete effectively. To do this they use advanced analytic techniques and put that power into the hands of more users across their organization. As business demand for analytics increases, a powerful and elastic infrastructure is required to handle planned and unplanned spikes in demand.  

Teradata wants customers to access data and do analytics from the cloud, on-premise, from mobile devices or practically anywhere. It wants its solutions to run on any hardware.  Last year it introduced new branding like ‘Teradata Everywhere’ and ‘Borderless Analytics’. It announced the Teradata managed cloud, for analytics in the cloud.

It also embraced open source, by way of  Hadoop -- an open source, Java-based programming framework that supports the processing and storage of extremely large data sets in a distributed computing environment. And this is the model that businesses are increasingly adopting.  

The latest from Teradata


Teradata made three key announcements at this event.

1.    Licensing portability:
In today’s enterprise, infrastructure can be both on-premise and in the cloud. Customers shift workloads between on-premise and the cloud (a hybrid cloud model), depending on how their businesses scale. That means solutions must adapt to these requirements and should have flexible licensing models.

Until now, hybrid cloud vendors offered complex, inconsistent licensing models across deployment options that make it difficult for customers to select a solution that fits all their needs.

Teradata is bringing in change with licensing flexibility and portability. Its customers now have the flexibility to choose, shift, expand, and restructure their hybrid cloud environment by moving licenses between multiple deployment options as their business needs change. Not only is the database license portable across the hybrid cloud options (like private and public clouds), but so are workloads, enabled by a common code base in all deployments.

In addition, the new licensing model offers subscription-based licenses and simplified tiers with bundled features.

2.       Customer Journey and Visualization: Teradata also announced several enhancements to the Teradata Customer Journey solution that will give marketers easier access to analytics, dynamic visualizations, machine learning and predictive simulations. Most companies struggle to understand their customers’ journeys, much less actively manage them. There are questions being asked like: Why did this particular customer abandon the shopping cart? Why did he stop short of the payment process? Can I make him a better offer?

With this solution marketers can treat every customer as an individual, increasing response rates, reducing churn and ensuring greater customer satisfaction.

3.       New platform technologies (SSD memory): Teradata announced an all-memory update to its Teradata IntelliFlex platform, an integrated data warehouse platform. The upgrades are empowered by a move to all solid state drives (SSD), which make it possible to reduce data centre space, while delivering a massive increase in processing power for mission-critical analytics at great speed. Teradata also announced the new, ready-to-run Teradata IntelliBase platform, a compact environment for data warehousing, iterative data exploration and advanced analytics, and low-cost data storage.

Both products are offered on-premises, and will also be available on the cloud with Teradata IntelliCloud availability coming soon.  

Teradata IntelliCloud is a next generation secure managed cloud offering that provides data and analytics software as a service (SaaS).

BW Analysis

For a long time Teradata abstained from cloud, choosing to remain a hardware-centric company with closed architecture. Teradata’s arch

nemesis Oracle moved to the cloud long ago and now offers data warehousing, data management and business analytics solutions on the

cloud. Oracle Exadata Database Machine has also been compared with Teradata’s solutions. Other competitors who make analytics solutions such as SAP, SAS and IBM embraced the cloud long before Teradata.

Chris TwogoodChris Twogood, VP, Products & Solutions Marketing, Teradata said, “When we started 30 years ago, it was a hardware proprietary platform. Then we moved  some of the stuff (amps, hashing algorithms, binet) out to software. So we now take this to the cloud. It is not about Teradata technology being ready for the cloud. Our customers are now just starting to shift to the cloud. Some of our large customers told us that if we were not on the cloud then they would consider other alternatives.”  

Many of Teradata’s customers are also customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and IBM Bluemix.  If these three cloud behemoths were to offer something similar to what Teradata has today.

Teradata might see customer churn. For instance, Amazon already offers a data warehouse solution called Redshift.

Twogood says that Teradata has an advantage for now as “some of the infrastructure of these cloud providers is not working too well.”

While Teradata competes with AWS and Microsoft Azure, there is also a strategic collaboration with them. The Teradata Intelliflex data

warehouse platform now runs on public cloud infrastructure from AWS and will soon run on Azure. In fact this has also been factored into its new licensing policy, as described earlier in this story. Teradata is also launching a developer model on AWS that will enable developers to experience its solutions on the cloud.

The other thing to note is that Teradata is going after only the large enterprises, thereby neglecting a large base of mid-sized enterprises. Teradata CEO Lund said in his opening remarks that Teradata wants to help large enterprises with scale.

Teradata is changing its DNA -- business and pricing models, architectures, and solutions. That means its partners have also got to change, and that may not go down too well with certain ISVs. There might be a conflict of interest. So Teradata will have to tread carefully, without stepping on toes, to gently lead its partner ecosystem through this metamorphism. Failing to do so will end some

trusted and long-standing relationships.

Going forward, we see Teradata increasingly pursuing the analytics of things.Analysing data from sensors has tremendous potential, especially in the manufacturing, energy and transportation sectors.

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The writer was hosted in Nice, France by Teradata.


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