Software // Information Management
Commentary
10/27/2009
09:06 AM
Curt Monash
Curt Monash
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Teradata's Hardware Strategy and Tactics

The most important takeaways about Teradata's hardware strategy from the Partners conference last week are: 1. Teradata's future lies in solid-state memory. 2. The solid-state future is imminent. 3. Teradata will increase the number of appliances it sells. 4. Teradata will mix and match parts (especially storage) in a modular product line.

In my opinion, the most important takeaways about Teradata's hardware strategy from the Teradata Partners conference last week are:

  • Teradata's future lies in solid-state memory. That's in line with what Carson Schmidt told me six months ago.
  • To Teradata's surprise, the solid-state future is imminent. Teradata is 6-9 months further along with solid-state drives (SSD) than it thought a year ago it would be at this point.
  • Short-term, Teradata is going to increase the number of appliance kinds it sells. I didn't actually get details on anything but the new SSD-based Blurr, but it seems there will be others as well.
  • Teradata's eventual future is to mix and match parts (especially different kinds of storage) in a more modular product line. Teradata Virtual Storage is of pretty limited value otherwise. I believe Teradata will go modular more emphatically than Teradata itself does, because I think doing so will meet users needs more effectively than if Teradata relies strictly on fixed appliance configurations.
In addition, some non-SSD componentry tidbits from Carson Schmidt include:
  • Teradata really likes Intel's Nehalem CPUs, with special reference to multi-threading, QuickPath interconnect, and integrated memory controller. Obviously, Nehalem-based Teradata boxes should be expected in the not too distant future.
  • Teradata really likes Nehalem's successor Westmere too, and expects to be pretty fast to market with it (faster than with Nehalem) because Nehalem and Westmere are plug-compatible in motherboards.
  • Teradata will go to 10-gigabit Ethernet for external connectivity on all its equipment, which should improve load performance.
  • Teradata will also go to 10-gigabit Ethernet to play the Bynet role on appliances. Tests are indicating this improves query performance.
  • What's more, Teradata believes there will be no practical scale-out limitations with 10-gigabit Ethernet.
  • Teradata hasn't decided yet what to do about 2.5" SFF (Small Form Factor) disk drives, but is leaning favorably. Benefits would include lower power consumption and smaller cabinets.
  • Also on Carson's list of "exciting" future technologies is SAS 2.0, which at 6 gigabits/second doubles the I/O bandwidth of SAS 1.0.
  • Carson is even excited about removing universal power supplies from the cabinets, increasing space for other components.
  • Teradata picked Intel's Host Bus Adapters for 10-gigabit Ethernet. The switch supplier hasn't been determined yet.

Let's get back now to SSDs, because over the next few years they're the potential game-changer. The big news on SSDs is that after last year's Teradata Partners conference, a stealth supplier* introduced itself and convinced Teradata it offers really great SSD technology. For example, not a single SSD it has provided Teradata has ever failed. (In hardware, that is. There have of course been firmware bugs, suitably squashed.) I think SSD performance is also exceeding Teradata's expectations. This supplier is where the 6-9 month time-to-market gain comes from. *Based on how often the concept of "stealth" and "name is NDAed" came up, I do not believe this is the SSD company another vendor told me about that is going around claiming it has a Teradata relationship.

Teradata SSD highlights include:

  • I/O speeds on "random medium blocks" are 520 megabytes/second, vs. 15 MB/second on their fastest conventional disks. And that's limited by SAS 1.0, load-balanced across two devices, not the hardware itself. (2 x 300+ MB/sec turns out to be 520 MB/sec in this case.) No wonder Carson is excited about SAS 2.0.
  • Teradata is using SAS interfaces for its SSDs, and believes that's unusual, in that other companies are using SATA or Fibre Channel.
  • Never having had a part fail, Teradata has no real basis to make MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) estimates for its SSDs.
  • Teradata's SSD appliance design includes no array controllers. The biggest reason is that right now array controllers can't keep up with the SSDs' speed.
  • In its SSD appliance, Teradata has abandoned RAID, doing mirroring instead via a DBMS feature called Fallback that's been around since Teradata's earliest days. (However, unlike Oracle in Exadata, Teradata continues to use RAID for disks.)
  • Useful life for Teradata's SSDs is estimated at 5-7 years.
  • Teradata's SSDs are SLC (Single-Level Cell), as opposed to MLC (Multi-Level Cell).
The most important takeaways about Teradata's hardware strategy from the Partners conference last week are: 1. Teradata's future lies in solid-state memory. 2. The solid-state future is imminent. 3. Teradata will increase the number of appliances it sells. 4. Teradata will mix and match parts (especially storage) in a modular product line.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and community news at InformationWeek.com.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.