MUFI Rating & Risk – Teradata

MUFI Rating & Risk – Teradata

MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability

Vendor: Teradata (Select For Vendor Profile)


Teradata is the goto business intelligence platform for heavy-duty data requirements. Teradata routinely has the largest data warehouses in the world, and it has had this through some years. Teradata has put a great deal of development effort into what it refers to as MPP, or massively parallel processing, and as a result, Teradata is a difficult software vendor for others to compete against when the data volumes get large. Teradata’s purchase of Aster Data Systems, a specialist in “big data” provides more capabilities in this area. Teradata’s capabilities with large data volumes are impressive enough that they are one of the few vendors we have ever seen that published a paper on how to keep from getting snowed by other software vendors during benchmarking. Some of their recommendations are the following:

  1. Don’t let the vendor dictate how to run the benchmark or what to include or exclude.
  2. Make sure all the vendors play by the same rules.
  3. Make sure you have the right team mix in terms of expertise and objectivity.
  4. Don’t use a subset of your data or projected volumes and then try to extrapolate. You cannot assume that performance will be linear.
  5. If your goal is an EDW, include multiple subject areas and have the benchmark demonstrate integration of these subject areas.
  6. Use real and representative data. – Enterprise Data Warehouse Benchmarks

As we note in our Honest Vendor Rating of Teradata, they provide accurate information to clients, but they also provide very detailed information. This link takes prospective buyers to videos which both explain their products and show the hardware specification for each application.

In fact, Teradata has so many videos, which is taking quite a while to get through all of them.

Application Detail

Teradata offers a high-quality BI platform but faces the common issues concerning high maintenance with platforms in the BI Heavy category. Teradata has been a long time supporter of the Bill Inmon “Corporate Information Factory” approach, which means high degrees of structure as well as overhead. While the research in this area is lacking, as expressed in the article link above, we think this approach has lost out and will lose out more in the future to a less structured and lower maintenance solution. The evidence we can point to for this is the fact that that the BI Light vendors.

This is less about data warehousing and infrastructure and more about the front end, and connecting to any data source are growing much faster than the BI Heavy software vendors. That the open source and unstructured Apache Hadoop is gaining a large number of converts (Amazon S3, Computer Cloud, Yahoo, Google Computer Engine). This is not to say Kimball’s approach is the best all the time, and it is also true that Teradata is quite flexible, and can be implemented any number of ways.

Teradata is a challenging application to implement due to its complexity. However, it is not unnecessarily challenging as with applications such as SAP BI/BW or IBM Cognos. Teradata is simply tackling the most challenging problems in the BI/data warehousing space. But it also offers applications and functionalities that have far-ranging benefits to data warehousing. For instance, it has a very sophisticated set of applications that are focused on controlling the prioritization of queries places upon the data warehouse.


Teradata is quite focused on using intelligence to control how resources are managed.

One of the benefits of Teradata is once the data warehouse in installed, Teradata has some applications which can leverage this data warehouse in a variety of dimensions– in this case, marketing automation shown below.

Teradata Communication Plan 2

In the Teradata Selection Manager, the database of contacts can be selected for a communication plan. After the contacts are selected, the communication plan can be created.

Teradata’s add-on applications range from geospatial applications, health care, marketing analytics to supply chain applications. In fact, the many ready to go applications that can be attached to Teradata’s data warehouse applications is a major benefit of going with Teradata. We do not cover another BI software vendor that has so many additional data warehouse extensions in this way.

A primary weakness of BI Heavy platforms/applications is their high maintenance. This cuts in two directions. First, it means high long-term expenses. Second, it means that to stay away from more costs, buyers often develop a tendency to limit the user of the BI Heavy platform/applications that it does own. We consider this to be the number one issue concerning BI management, so buyers should be extremely focused on having software vendors demonstrate the maintainability functions of their applications during the sales process. We recall a conversation with one buyer who stated that “Anytime that we do anything in SAP BI/BW, it’s extremely expensive for us.” This should be completely plain to those who work in the applications, but of course, it is far more difficult to determine from simply seeing demos during a sales presentation. BI Heavy vendors have tended to focus more on the bells and whistles of BI functionality rather than usability and maintainability – and this is due primarily to sales pressure. That is “this or that client is requesting XYZ functionality, so let’s focus on that.” However, maintainability issues often determine the long-term viability and ROI of an application, and of course the limits which are placed upon its use. Some applications start off small, but grow in usage, while for others the reverse is true. The most obvious example of this is the common cutting of reports that the business would like to have, but that is not affordable to be developed. However, there are also many other examples that are less obvious that reduce the degree to which the buyer leverages the BI Heavy platforms/applications. Teradata is frequently criticized during sales proposals for its higher upfront costs – however, this is not an apple to apple comparison. IT analysts like Gartner reinforce this comparison by ranking Oracle and IBM along with Teradata in “Completeness of Vision,” on their magic quadrant – which is essentially a proxy for the vendor’s technology (how this works is explained in the book following book link). The implication being the following:

Look, Teradata only has slightly better technology than Oracle or IBM, and they have a higher up front cost, so why not save some money up front and go with a bigger brand name?

However, this ranking has more to do with how more money IBM and Oracle can afford to pay Gartner than an actual reflection of their these vendors relative BI merits. This is something which is understood, but not acted upon by executive decision makers – Gartner is a “sponsored” media outlet, and they adjust their methodology to place the vendors with the ability to pay the highest. This is explained in detail in the SCM Focus Press book Gartner and the Magic Quadrant: A Guide for Buyers, Vendors, Investors. In truth, neither IBM nor Oracle are anywhere close to Teradata in their technology.

Teradata is selling a differentiated product which has been built for the most significant data requirements. This means that their platform/applications can more easily handle any data volumes. Some of the marketing of competing vendors makes it appear as if they are offering the same product — but these comparisons are often related to specifications, and they are not benchmarks — they merely state a quantity of data processed. This does not speak to efficiency, and a great deal of this marketing is directed towards lower information buyers. Many competing software vendors have shown a disinclination to provide performance benchmarks, but Teradata routinely does. The benefit of working in the biggest data environments has lead Teradata to develop some innovations and approaches that result in times savings over the long term – and to better sustainability. Parallel processing and query prioritization are just a few examples of these innovations. A large percentage of the overall innovation in data warehousing can be attributed to Teradata. There are the reasons why we rate Teradata as the maintenance leader in the BI Heavy software category.  This is reflected in our TCO Calculation for Teradata.

MUFI Scores

All scores out of a possible 10.

Vendor and Application Risk

Software Decisions Risk Defined: (See This Link for Our Categorization of Risk)

Like Birst, Teradata offers a very good combination of a highly rated product along with a highly rated consulting service. Teradata has one of the best-rated consulting entities in enterprise software, and Teradata consultants can serve as more than simply implementation consultants, but also as solution architects and they can be expected to provide effective practices. These capable consultants are required because Teradata has so much depth to offer, and so many applications and functionalities that one of the risks of a Teradata implementation is getting lost in Teradata’s solution. In our view, Teradata does a very capable of job of not only selling to prospects but in educating them. The fact is, they deal with a complex set of solutions.

Likelihood of Implementation Success

This accounts for both the application and vendor-specific risk. In our formula, the total implementation risk is application + vendor + buyer risk. The buyer specific risk could increase or decrease this overall likelihood and adjust the values that you see below.

Risk Definition

See this link for more on our categorizations of risk. We also offer a Buyer Specific Risk Estimation as a service for those that want a comprehensive analysis.

Risk Management Approach

Buyers are in a good position to have a successful implementation after a Teradata purchase. The implementation is low risk, and unlike some other competitors in the BI Heavy space, Teradata does not in any way pretend it is anything but a BI Heavy solution.

Finished With Your Analysis?

To go back to the Software Selection Package page for the BI Heavy software category. Or go to this link to see other analytical products for Teradata.

What We Do and Research Access

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Research Access

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Adelman, Sid. Enterprise Data Warehouse Benchmarks: How to Make an Informed Decision, Minimize Risk, and Measure More Than Performance. Teradata.