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Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me: Teradata talks up cloud integrations in bid to fend off native competition

Would you like it in a box? Would you like it with a fox?

Teradata, the enterprise data warehouse provider with customers including HSBC and Unilever, has pushed out a list of cloud platform integrations and enhancements in an effort to keep up with cloud-native rivals.

As data warehouse installations gradually shift workloads to the cloud, users are apt to ask themselves whether they should stick with well-established incumbents such as Teradata, Oracle or IBM's Netezza, or take a look at cloud-native providers. These include systems from the cloudy big three – AWS's RedShift, Azure's Synapse, GCP's BigQuery – or Snowflake, seen as something of a trailblazer with an market valuation to boot.

Some Teradata customers have already shifted data warehouse workloads to the cloud. Consumer goods giant Unilever has some installations of Azure's Synapse while Vodafone has started using BigQuery.

Teradata – with its background of on-premises, data warehouse-specific appliances and software – is trying to see off the threat with the claim it is getting closer to cloud infrastructure and integration with common cloud data tools. It promises quicker compressed data migration times with its new data transfer utility tool. Speed improves 20 per cent compared to its previous iteration while reliability is also better, the company said.

On security, it is offering support for customer-managed keys for its data platform, Vantage, on AWS and Azure as an alternative to the default of Teradata-managed encryption keys. Meanwhile, it said it is boosting its service-level agreement to 99.9 per cent availability and upgrading the self-service web-based console with expanded options for monitoring and managing as-a-service environments.

The company also talked up a raft of new integrations including AWS Kinesis for data streaming, QuickSight for visualisation and SageMaker for machine learning.

"Integration with AWS first-party services is important because customers want the ability to have as much cloud-native functionality as possible for their Vantage environments," said Brian Wood, Teradata director of cloud. "It enables users to tap into new sources of innovation across all aspects of the analytic process from start to finish."

Teradata is also highlighting similar integration with Azure, including Azure Data Factory for ETL pipelines, Azure ML Studio, and Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

Features for features' sake?

The data warehouse firm is announcing these integrations because it needs to be seen positioning itself against the cloud-native providers to stop users looking for other platforms in the cloud, and as a viable option for organisations looking for their first data warehouse in the cloud, said Philip Howard, a research director at Bloor Research.

"They're basically saying, you can have Teradata however you want it. You can have it in the cloud if you want to, you can have it on bare metal, you can have it on our own hardware, or you can have it on commodity hardware."

The impression that it is releasing features simply to create a good impression in the market is not helped by the fact it is reheating some announcements – integration with blob storage S3 and Azure Blob Storage – first made a little more than a year ago.

In reality, Teradata customers and other organisations on the hunt for data-warehousing products will face more nuanced choices depending on their starting point, Howard said.

Since Redshift was viewed as more of a data mart technology, rather than a full-scale enterprise data warehouse, users would be unlikely to see it as an alternative to Teradata.

"The impression I get in the market is that if people are moving off Teradata they're moving to someone [cloud-native] like Snowflake," Howard said.

Conversely, those needing to rapidly spin up data warehouse workloads in the cloud for short-term or small-scale applications, would be unlikely to pick Teradata and would instead look at the cloud-native providers or a data lake system such as DataBricks.

Teradata has a loyal customer base which is not as threatened by the cloud interloper as some seem to think. But with potential use cases for data and analytics systems continuing to climb, it will be challenging for the company to grab enough of this new work to sustain growth. ®

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