Teradata Establishes New Standard for Columnar Databases

Delivers hybrid row and column database that extends data warehouse analytics leadership

Sep 22, 2011, 09:01 ET from Teradata Corporation

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the leading analytic data solutions company, today announced Teradata Columnar, a transformative advance in database technology that fully integrates columnar and row-based tables establishing new levels of flexibility, performance and compression. Teradata Columnar enables the Teradata Database to run faster and deliver higher compression rates than the competition. Its advanced architecture delivers the most comprehensive ready-to-use environment for organizations confronting the challenge of delivering analytics in the world of accelerating big data.

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Unlike relational database management systems which only store data in rows, a columnar database stores data in columns. Working separately, each method offers unique benefits depending on the application and type of data.  However, the new columnar capability from Teradata allows users to mix-and-match columnar and row-based physical storage when it best suits an application. With Teradata, applications now get access to both row and column structured data allowing unmatched flexibility and performance.

"This flexibility supports organizations grappling with massive data sets, a growing user population, and performance-driven service level agreements. Teradata Columnar allows our customers to deliver better analytics faster to more people," said Scott Gnau, president Teradata Labs, Teradata Corporation. "The flexibility of Teradata Columnar enables analytical applications to be supported by the appropriate table structure with optimized response times from a single data warehouse. In addition, it automatically picks the best compression method and dynamically adapts the compression mechanism as data evolves over time."

Industries to Benefit from Columnar

Teradata Columnar supports business users in making the best decision possible, based on new data analytics, in order to create sustainable competitive advantage, regardless of industry.

Telecommunications – While a consumer is waiting on the phone with a customer service agent, the agent must search the consumer's Call Detail Records (CDR), which may have over one hundred columns. However, to get answers to the caller's questions, a typical query needs data from only a few of the columns.  Teradata Columnar is able to decrease, by 90 percent, the amount of data needed for the query. This significantly improves response time to the consumer by reducing input and output (I/O).

Financial Services – When a bank's marketing manager uses customer relationship management (CRM) data to more effectively personalize each sales contact, he often needs less than 10 attributes about the customer, such as customer number, demographic characteristics, last product purchased, and last channel used. However, a CRM system captures hundreds of customer attributes. With columnar, the amount of data read from the customer record is reduced by 90 percent, because only the 10 required attributes will be read, not the entire row of hundreds of attributes.  This capability supports high performance, millisecond response time to queries required to speed inbound marketing.

Retail – A purchasing agent is ordering products for a chain of stores and is only interested in ordering a select number of items, based on specific SKU numbers. However, retail demand chain management systems store a broad set of attributes for each item, including the date, store locations and SKU to meet a variety of reporting requirements. The business user only wants data relevant to her question, and does not require all the metrics. With columnar, the database only reads the data referenced in the agent's question, driving higher performance and lower processing costs compared to reading all of the columns in the table.

"Teradata Columnar is a strategic leap forward and is the industry's first to get hybrid columnar storage right.  Until now, the columnar choices have been pure column-based with all its limitations, or clunky bolt-on columnar. Teradata Columnar is not bolt-on technology; it is integrated with the world's leading database software," said Gnau. "Its integration with row-based storage is exceptionally flexible and simple to use, so that organizations get the most out of all of their data."

"We feel that columnar data storage capability is transformational in nature," said Donald Feinberg, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner Inc. "Columnar is a key technology that delivers high business value by helping enterprises adapt their information infrastructure to the evolving demands for timely, reliable intelligence to run the business. In addition, it will have far-reaching implications for the design of systems, and offer major cost savings affecting higher power and cooling requirements."

The Promise of Columnar Fulfilled

Teradata Columnar clears performance bottlenecks by storing data in columns instead of rows. Only the data in the columns required for a query are pulled into memory for processing, vastly reducing the time-constraining input/output (I/O) of a row-based approach that would read data from all the columns.

Customers can confidently move forward with Teradata Columnar, knowing that its elegant hybrid design includes the features that support mission critical applications which depend on large volumes of data in columnar tables.  Unlike competitive hybrids, Teradata Columnar supports applications with advanced workload management features, high availability, rich structured query language (SQL), in-database analytics, an industry leading optimizer, and unsurpassed scalability.

"With Teradata Columnar, Teradata combines the performance advantages of its new hybrid row and column capabilities with Teradata's high availability, rich SQL support, optimization, and workload management," said David Menninger, vice president and research director at Ventana Research. "Teradata customers can now enjoy the benefits of columnar database capabilities integrated into the Teradata platform."

Dramatic and Automatic Compression

In addition to the significant performance benefits of storing data in columns, Teradata Columnar unblocks I/O congestion in yet another way: compression. Compression reduces the I/O required to read the data into memory because the necessary data to answer a query is compressed to a fraction of its size. Plus, Teradata Columnar automates compression administration, freeing the data base administrator from the analysis necessary to choose from several complex compression alternatives. The database automatically uses the best compression mechanisms for the situation.

Further, Teradata Columnar dynamically adjusts the compression mechanisms for optimal storage as the data evolves over time, reducing the effort a data base administrator must make fiddling with ever-changing and ever-growing storage compression needs. Teradata's distinct architectural approach creates containers within each column so data can be compressed more efficiently. For example, data values in one container inside a column might benefit from one kind of compression algorithm while the values in another container loaded six months later would be best served with a different algorithm. By automatically choosing the right algorithms for each container, the Teradata Columnar maximizes the compression possible within a column, significantly improving the I/O and system performance over less sophisticated implementations.

Teradata automatically chooses from among six types of compression: run length, dictionary, trim, delta on mean, null and UTF8 based on the column demographics. For example, a beverage store may sell a special holiday drink repeatedly during the month of December, making run length encoding compression beneficial in addition to dictionary type compression.  During May, drink sales are more random and interspersed, reducing the repetitions to which run length encoding applies.  Therefore, run length encoding is automatically added to the compression mix in December, but not in May.

Columnar capability will be available in December as a component of Teradata Database 14.  The enhanced database is the high performing analytical engine that powers the company's Teradata Purpose-Built Platform family. All of the Teradata Purpose-Built Platforms can benefit from Teradata Columnar for specific analytical workloads. Teradata Database 14 is also available as the software only Data Mart Edition and Teradata Express for cloud computing solution.

Relevant news link

1. "Teradata is Thinking Big," Stephen Swoyer,


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