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The Changing Data Warehouse Landscape

A recent market survey highlights how much the data warehousing market -- and what's meant by the term "data warehouse" -- has changed.

Teradata had the strongest overall showing in "The Data Warehouse Landscape," a DW market assessment published annually by analyst firm The Information Difference Ltd.

Teradata was joined by what might be called "the Gang of Three": IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Oracle Corp. -- the trio of vendors behind the dominant commercial relational database systems.

Similar to Gartner Inc.'s "Magic Quadrant" and Forrester Research's "Wave" tools, the Information Difference report uses a graph-like visual metaphor to plot the performance of the "Main" players in the data warehousing space. Also like Gartner's most recent "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics" reports, "The Data Warehouse Landscape" captures a new, seemingly atypical snapshot of the data warehousing market.

At least its snapshot of the market leaders is predictable. With Teradata, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle clustered at the top, it could easily be a market report from 2010.

The Gang of Three outpaced Teradata on the graph's X axis, which measures "market strength." However, Teradata placed higher than IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle on the Y axis, which measures "technology." Customer satisfaction is part of the calculus used to plot a vendor's performance on the technology axis, according to Information Difference.

Teradata did very well here, too. "In this research cycle, the vendors with the happiest customers were Teradata, followed by Kalido," the report notes. Kalido? Yes, the data warehouse automation (DWA) specialist made the cut, joining Greenplum (now owned by Dell Inc.) and SAS Institute Inc. -- along with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Teradata, of course -- on the graph.

A Data Warehousing Market in Flux

The report highlights the extent to which the data warehousing market -- and, for that matter, what's meant by the term "data warehouse" -- has changed.

Two companies that were plotted on last year's "Main" graph (Kognitio and InfoBright) didn't make the cut this time around. Both are still referenced elsewhere in the report as "Significant" players, however.

"To get on the main chart, a vendor must provide sufficient customer references [a minimum of ten] willing to conduct a brief customer satisfaction survey with us. We ask about how happy they are with the software, the support services, whether they got benefit from the software[,] etc.," Andy Hayler, CEO of Information Difference, wrote in an email response.

"[W]e ask for a briefing with an analyst to update us on the latest software and developments at the vendor, their competitive positioning, recent customer wins, etc. If a vendor provides insufficient references, then they will either be assigned a neutral score for customer satisfaction or be dropped entirely from the chart."

This year's edition of the report is as notable for who's included as for who's excluded.

For example, even though its tally of "Main" data warehousing vendors includes a slew of familiar names (1010 Data, Actian, Amazon, Exasol, InfoBright, Kognitio, MarkLogic Inc., SAP AG, HP Vertica, and WhereScape Inc.), the report lists several non-traditional data warehousing vendors, too.

One example is jSonar, a data warehouse that's optimized for JSON object query. Others are Neo4J, an open source graph database, and ParStream, a database for streaming analytics that Cisco Systems Inc. acquired late last year. Two years ago, however, jSonar, Neo4J, and ParStream weren't included in the report's list of "Significant" vendors; last year, jSonar and Neo4J weren't, but ParStream was.

To say that these products are atypical platforms for data warehousing is to understate the case. As "The Data Warehouse Landscape" report stresses, however, the shape and complexity of data warehousing is changing, as is the role of the data warehouse itself.

"These additional challenges [posed by big data] have pushed the traditional SQL-based database to its limits, and we are seeing the rise of newer database technologies (NoSQL) not based on the relational model, sometimes with dynamic rather than fixed schemas," the report explains, arguing that "the worlds of Hadoop and the data warehouse are, at least for now, quite distinct and complementary. However, we expect to see this distinction blur over time."

Several vendors were conspicuously absent from "The Data Warehouse Landscape" report. Notable absences include Attunity Inc. (formerly BIReady), Snowflake Computing Inc., and TimeXtender Inc.

BIReady and TimeXtender market DWA technologies that compete with similar offerings from Kalido and WhereScape; Snowflake markets a cloud-based massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse-as-a-service that competes with cloud offerings from Amazon (RedShift), Microsoft (Azure SQL Data Warehouse), and Teradata, along with on-premises MPP data warehouse products from Actian, Hewlett-Packard Co. (Vertica), IBM (Netezza), Kognitio, and similar MPP players.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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