Teradata: Hands off Aster's 'Big Data' analytics system – for now

At the Teradata Universe conference in Spain, a Teradata executive said the company will keep Aster Data’s analytical database and its upgrade plans as is "for the time being."

BARCELONA, Spain – Enterprise data warehouse market leader Teradata plans to keep the so-called Big Data analytics technology acquired in its $263 million purchase of Aster Data Systems as a separate product stack “for the time being,” according to Scott Gnau, Teradata’s chief development officer.

Speaking at the Teradata Universe conference here this week, Gnau explained that the pace of the deal – which was announced 3 March and completed just over a month later 6 April – had left little time for forward planning.

During the due diligence process that preceded the acquisition, “our engineers weren’t able to sit down and do a lot of work with Aster Data’s engineers on the product roadmap, so that’s something we’re just starting on now,” Gnau said.

He did add, however, that Teradata will stick to Aster Data’s original plan to release nCluster 4.7, a new version of the acquired company’s hybrid row-and-column database that will be able to run on parallel clusters, by the close of this year.

The “hands-off” approach is unlikely to continue over the longer term, according to James Kobielus, a US-based analyst with Forrester Research. Kobielus said that ultimately, he expects Teradata to “inject considerable R&D monies into its newly acquired product group and to bring Aster Data’s development team into close collaboration with Teradata Labs.”

Getting a grip in the Big Data analytics market
The Aster Data acquisition gives Teradata a firm foothold in the emerging market for Big Data analytics, which is also referred to as deep analytics – a form of business intelligence (BI) that involves datasets so large, diverse and constantly changing that traditional analytics tools and approaches can’t keep up.

A Big Data analytics project might focus, for example, on alerts generated by smart meters in an energy grid, or fuel consumption data collected by in-vehicle computers in delivery trucks, or customer discussions of a company’s products or services on social networking sites.

Gnau said that Teradata sees such nontraditional BI applications as a huge opportunity. “Around 80% of a company’s data lives outside of its enterprise data warehousing environment,” he said. “And this data is growing quicker than traditional data – twice as fast or even faster, according to what study you read.”

Andreas Bitterer, a Hamburg, Germany-based analyst with IT market research company Gartner, said there is very little real implementation of Big Data analytics concepts in the market at this point, “although there is a great deal of talk and a lot of interest among clients,” he conceded.

Teradata’s purchase of Aster Data continued a wave of consolidation moves in which small data warehouse software and appliance vendors are being bought up by larger companies. The deal was announced just two weeks after Hewlett-Packard said it was buying data warehouse database maker Vertica Systems, which in turn followed a pair of deals last year in which EMC acquired Greenplum and IBM bought Netezza.

At Teradata Universe this week, Teradata also said that the integration of the cloud-based technology from its $525 million acquisition of marketing automation specialist Aprimo in January is proceeding on schedule.

Integration of the data warehouse vendor’s Teradata Relationship Manager software with Aprimo’s marketing operations tools will be completed this quarter, and additional integration with Aprimo’s email marketing software is targeted for this year’s fourth quarter, Teradata said.

Jessica Twentyman is a business and technology journalist who has been a regular contributor to national newspapers and trade magazines in the UK over the past 15 years.

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