Billed as the premier customer-led global data conference, Teradata Partners 2016 spanned five days, from Saturday September 10th to Thursday, September 15th and provided many opportunities for business and technology leaders to learn and share the latest strategies and tactics for optimizing their company’s use of data. The main theme of this year’s Atlanta-based conference was “Data Changes Everything,” a message that infused the keynote, sessions, the exhibit hall, innovation lab and other networking events. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Analytics of Things (AoT) were common subjects throughout many of the sessions, and Teradata seems to be investing heavily to stay on top of this emerging trend.
From the opening notes of the psychedelic space themed introduction to the end of the keynote session, Teradata brought out one interesting speaker/entertainer after the next, creating an energetic two-hour event that held the attention of everyone. Victor Lund, Teradata’s new CEO, spoke to the great technology and customers Teradata has and reinforced Teradata's commitment to quality, longevity, innovation and their customers. He left attendees with this memorable quote: "Analytics and data unleash the potential of great companies."
Oliver Ratzesberger, Chief Product Officer, noted that digitalization of the enterprise is a common top-three C-level executive goal – specifically the need to find insight in data to build a better future. Ratzesberger went on to define the alternative: data anarchy, as siloed data and efforts and ungoverned data and efforts. This data anarchy is the leading cause of inefficiency and extensive cost in data-related initiatives. After touching on the latest Teradata announcements (Teradata Everywhere, Borderless Analytics, Query Grid 2.0, and Agile Analytics), Ratzesberger kicked off a live performance test across three Teradata platforms comparing Teradata on Azure, Teradata on AWS, Teradata's Managed Cloud (the clear performance winner) and a competing cloud database to show not only Teradata’s query performance superiority, but also the extreme performance of their own managed cloud offering emphasizing Teradata’s commitment to cloud technologies and approaches.
Dave McCann, VP of Amazon Web Services provided and overview of AWS capabilities followed by Todd Sylvester, Teradata VP of Product Management, who discussed the latest cloud service management features and how they would help setup and configure Teradata products in the cloud. Ron Bodkin, President of ThinkBig, the Teradata owned consulting company, spoke to how ThinkBig's services augment and accelerate the implementation and value of Teradata technology.
Closing out the Keynote was guest speaker - David Eagleman, American writer and neuroscientist, serving as an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University in the department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. Eagleman spoke about range of perception of color and frequencies and how our idea of reality is based on what we can perceive. However, what we can perceive is merely a small amount of what is exists. Technology can expand the world as we perceive it making improvements along the way such as a vest that help the deaf understand spoken words and other life improving capabilities. Eagleman wrapped up with the point that not only can having access to the myriad data available change our perception of the world, it can help us overcome disabilities and challenges, but also help us evolve our existing capabilities altogether. The most intriguing discovery in Eagleman’s labs was that getting data, any data, to the human brain in any format allowed the brain to process it, learn and draw conclusions based on patterns. Much like getting data to business analysts so they can figure out what to do with it, you can just get data to a human brain and it will figure out what to do with it.
Nothing symbolizes the future of high tech more so than artificial intelligence, machine learning and the vast possibilities of the internet of things. In keeping with the “Data Changes Everything” theme, Chad Meley, Teradata’s VP of marketing, dove a little deeper into Teradata's IoT approach and outlined the Teradata stable of “Accelerators,” which he described as prepared logical packages that can be applied in appropriate circumstances to improve time to value, accuracy, and the value of Analytics of Things (AoT). A few primary use cases served by these accelerators include condition-based maintenance, failure prediction, part inventory forecasting and recommended maintenance actions. In these cases, data changes both our perception of what has, is, or will happen, and how we can respond to it. It was invigorating to hear of real world successes using Teradata’s IoT approach and leaves you wondering: what’s next?
David Gilbreath, Teradata Unity Suite architect, and Paul LaPointe, Unity customer product owner, presented “How to Enable the Hybrid Cloud” which provided helpful tactical perspective on moving workloads to the cloud including how Teradata’s Unity, which automates and simplifies tasks to enable multiple active Teradata systems to work together, helps make these moves seamless to systems and end-users. This prescriptive session was valuable to help those in the process of moving systems and workflows to the cloud understand and simplify the process.
Carrie Ballinger, Senior Performance Engineer, presented a fascinating view into how Query Grid optimizes queries in real time, specifically the ability to change the execution plan as needed to respond to unforeseen or changing circumstances. Teradata refers to this as Incremental Planning & Execution (IPE), which gathers and uses dynamic statistics and responds in real time with the end result of faster performance and less memory usage. As my personal favorite Teradata product, Query Grid continues to evolve but its true power is not yet well-known or understood, even by the customers who are using it. I look forward to seeing this product develop further and becoming a major contender in the data virtualization market.
Overall it is clear that Teradata is increasing focus on analytics services with more emphasis on business solutions rather than hardware and software solutions. This is evident in their investment in both ThinkBig and their internal services consulting group and in their focus on the internet and analytics of things. Teradata is very vocal about reinforcing the message that they are committed to improving their value offerings and evolving them to keep up with new technologies, approaches and data management trends that emerge.