Teradata embraces the big data ecosystem, buys Think Big Analytics

Longtime data warehouse vendor Teradata appears to have found true big data religion, highlighted by the acquisition of consulting firm Think Big Analytics, which the two companies announced on Wednesday morning. Think Big is a fairly well-known firm that rode the rise of Hadoop and NoSQL technologies and specializes in helping companies integrate them into their existing data architectures.

The company, which has counted some big-name businesses among its clients since launching in 2010, will remain largely independent under Teradata’s ownership. Ron Bodkin, Think Big’s co-founder and CEO, said his company will still work on whatever technologies its clients have and desire, including competitive data warehouses. It will not act as a replacement for the team of specialists who help Teradata customers deploy that technology.

“Our mission and focus at [company]Think Big[/company] will continue,” Bodkin said.

Structure Data 2013 OMX Group Ron Bodkin Think Big Analytics

Ron Bodkin at Structure: Data 2013. Source: Albert Chau itsmebert.com

Rather, the acquisition seems like a greater acknowledgement by Teradata that being a one-trick company might not cut it over the long haul. Think Big is out there deploying potentially very large, complex infrastructure and Teradata, when it’s involved, is just one component of it — albeit an often very large (and very expensive) one. Meanwhile, competitors such as Pivotal, IBM and Oracle are pushing entire collections of data-analytics systems, and even upstarts such as Cloudera are stepping on Teradata’s turf with data warehouse options that are less capable but also offer lower costs for higher storage volumes.

Teradata has been addressing these concerns over the past few years, first by acquiring the MapReduce-based exploratory analytics startup Aster Data Systems in 2011, and then by partnering closely with Hadoop startup Hortonworks. The latter deal has led to new technologies for querying data across [company]Teradata[/company], Aster and Hadoop systems, and Teradata has rolled out its own white-label Hadoop appliances running the Hortonworks distribution. In October, Teradata said its platform would begin supporting JSON files, and the company announced an integration with MongoDB in June.

In July, Teradata acquired Hadoop metadata management startup Revelytix, as well as (in what appears to have been a fire sale) the assets of SQL-on-Hadoop pioneer Hadapt. (Analyst Curt Monash published some good insights on both deals at the time.) Randy Lea, president of Teradata’s big data practice, said the Revelytix deal already makes Teradata the best company for providing analytics and data management across such a wide range of systems. He said Hadapt had “some very interesting technology and expertise” and that Teradata will talk more about its plans for that technology later. One can imagine it adding some more native SQL options to its Hadoop appliance beyond what Apache Hive offers.

Lea said Teradata is excited about Think Big for a number of reasons, including the intellectual property it has developed around certain big data pipelines and data science applications, and its training program for bringing employees up to speed on Hadoop, Storm, NoSQL and related technologies. Indeed, bolstering the Hadoop and open source expertise within Teradata itself would help the company better align and integrate its technologies with the other stuff customers want to use, letting it ride their respective wave without having to start peddling open source software.