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Commentary

The Teradata Conference Revisited

Teredata has really been pushing the "Active" message: combining historical data with near-real-time to support operational BI... When it comes to blending the transactional nature of near-real-time with history, Teradata is way out in front of all the other database (and appliance) vendors. The latest release has lots of features that emphasize this.
Last week I attended the Teradata partners conference, one of the best events to go to if you want to see some of the leading-edge things people are doing. Unlike many conferences, this one has a lot of case studies, and they set a high bar for quality. Since Teradata sits at the core of the warehouse, they get a broader range of speakers, so I always find something of interest.The keynote speakers were Geoffrey Moore and Dean Kamen. Moore talked about maturing markets - which we're in - and innovation and competition. Interestingly, he gave a similar talk at the Netezza conference. I always like to hear him lecture. I don't know if Teradata will post the video / audio online. If not, you can find other lectures of his at IT Conversations.

Dean Kamen is an amazing inventor most people know for the Segway. His accomplishments in medical technology overshadow this. He gave a terrific and irreverent talk about innovation, creativity and the reasons why companies stifle both. The last ten minutes was dedicated to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an amazingly successful organization he started to get kids interested in science and education. He didn't like the way the educational system has no rewards for being smart, jut for being good at sports: "Scholarships for academics instead of sports stars - imagine that."

One big announcement for the event was 'the separation from NCR, with Teradata becoming a stand-alone company again. I think it's a great move. You don't get a lot of alignment between a mass market manufacturer of ATMs and a specialty manufacturer of high-end software and hardware.

The other news was the SAS-Teradata partnership. SAS has a loyal customer base in many large organizations, but they have trouble expanding from the department to use in the broader organization. This may help them.

There will be some technical challenges because of the way SAS works, and the reliance on either SAS data sets or language (hence engine) features of the product. There was a good presentation on the R&D they did to see how to push SAS features directly into the database to take advantage of Teradata's scalability. It looks promising, but it will be challenging for both companies.

I missed Thursday's Microsoft partnership presentation, but I was interested to learn that Teradata can implement Analysis Services cubes. Thinking about Microsoft technologies and Teradata in combination, I can imagine lots of scenarios for consolidating and scaling - even Microsoft Sharepoint consolidations (big companies + Sharepoint = a big mess most of the time).

Teredata has really been pushing the "Active" message: combining historical data with near-real-time to support operational BI. I think this is spot-on and one of the new drivers of competition. When it comes to blending the transactional nature of near-real-time with history, Teradata is way out in front of all the other database (and appliance) vendors. The latest release has lots of features that emphasize this.

There were many presentations on customer data and how to use it. This makes sense for Teradata shops since most of them have big data problems; large numbers of customers and large volumes of customer data usually translate into a big data problem. It's hard to infer that this is where everyone is going since we're dealing with a self-selected group, but I believe marketing is the next big area to be automated and "informed." Right now, marketing is under-represented when it comes to IT.

As with any data warehousing conference these days, there were a lot of master data management talks. Everyone is struggling to manage data now that we've collected to much of it and are discovering lots of inconsistencies. No surprise here.

One thing I don't get: why does Teradata have so many CTOs? I counted three as presenters.

I can also say that if you are holding a conference, don't hold it at the Mandalay Bay. You can hear everything going on in the next room, it's half a mile from the hotel to the conference center, and they treat you more like a mark than a guest.

The last note, which maybe ought to be first, is something I notice at every conference. People in this industry are just plain nice. Unlike so many other industries or technology sectors, I find the people working and speaking in this business to be some of the nicest, friendliest and mot supportive people around. It's one of the things that keeps me in the field.

Mark Madsen is president of Third Nature, a consulting and research firm focused on business intelligence, data integration and data management. He is a principal author of Clickstream Data Warehousing and speaks about data warehousing and emerging technology. Write him at [email protected].Teredata has really been pushing the "Active" message: combining historical data with near-real-time to support operational BI... When it comes to blending the transactional nature of near-real-time with history, Teradata is way out in front of all the other database (and appliance) vendors. The latest release has lots of features that emphasize this.