Teradata releases 50 petabyte data warehousing appliance

Vendor also demos solid-state disk version at Partners conference

Teradata Corp. made a trio of announcements today designed to keep the data warehousing vendor in the pole position of the suddenly competitive business intelligence race.

At its Teradata Partners conference in Las Vegas this week, the Miamisburg, Ohio-based company announced the immediate availability of the new Teradata Extreme Data Appliance 1550, a data warehousing appliance that can be configured in massively parallel grids that store up to 50 petabytes of data.

The 1550 will start at $16,500 per terabyte of user data, according to Scott Gnau, chief development officer at Teradata, in an interview last week. It is aimed at users seeking a relatively low-cost way to keep all of their historical data in the same data warehouse, rather than throwing away data or offloading it to archives.

James Kobielus, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., called the appliance "extremely scalable and extremely cost-effective."

"The 1550 will significantly reinforce Teradata's hold on the very high end of the data warehousing market, in terms of scalability, while also aggressively targeting the low end of the data warehousing market with a solution that is in the same affordability range as Sybase, Greenplum, Dataupia and some others -- and much less expensive than data warehousing appliances from Oracle, IBM and Netezza," he wrote in an e-mail.

Gnau cited telecommunications companies, which have extremely large volumes of caller data records (CDR) but need only to perform relatively simple analytics, as potential customers. "We anticipate a lot of demand for this," he said.

Kobielus said the main question is how Teradata will avoid cannibalizing its pricier data warehousing appliances.

Teradata also announced that the next version of its database will include 75 new features, including storage virtualization technology that will allow users to store more heavily used or "hot" data on faster parts of the hard disk.

The storage virtualization technology is an extension of Teradata's "multi-temperature" technology that stores hotter data on faster parts of the disk. But the new storage virtualization can allow users to have many different types of storage, and it is granular enough that it can go down to the block level and store "hotter" data on blocks of the disk closer to the spindle, Gnau said.

All told, Teradata 13 users "should see a 10% to 15% boost in performance," he said.

Teradata 13's beta is expected in the fourth quarter, with a final version due in the first half of 2009.

In addition, Teradata plans to demonstrate a prototype of a coming data warehousing appliance that uses solid-state disks rather than conventional spinning hard drives for faster performance.

The company plans to show a two-node system based on an existing data warehousing appliance that uses 128GB solid-state drives.

"Even in this nascent form, it will deliver very good performance," Gnau said. But he promised much more engineering to speed up the disk controllers and otherwise optimize the solid-state disks.

Gnau declined to say how much the solid-state disk-based appliance would cost or when it would be released. He also acknowledged that SSD drives are so pricey that are they may be out of the reach of most customers.

"We are here now," he said. "We'll release it when the market is ready. Our expectation is that this will become a viable option for mainstream enterprises in 2010 or 2011."

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