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Teradata on the future and impact of Big Data

Interviewed on Feb 22, 2012 by Shreehari Paliath
Dinesh Jain
Dinesh Jain, Country Manager, Teradata India We will not be looking at customers below a certain range where the need for analytical platform would be limited. Even in the future, this will be our target market.

Interview Questions

Full Interview with Dinesh Jain

CW : Since Teradata’s foray in India, what have been some of the major changes through which you evolved in this market?

Jain: Our main focus is to help organizations build their analytical capabilities and help consolidate their core business analytics. Organizations are focusing on unstructured data analytics and there is a lot of attention on big data. Teradata acquired Aster Data and Aprimo. The latter focuses on marketing resource management and Aster Data on big data. We are looking at changing the focus purely from unstructured data to a holistic platform that can analyze both structured and unstructured data. So, there have been a few changes because of the dynamic market conditions.

CW : Companies like IBM, EMC Greenplum, etc., have capabilities similar to Teradata. What differentiates you from the others?

Jain: Teradata has the largest scalable platform available compared to others. Often, competing platforms, when scaled in one direction, tend to fail in the other. We ensure that our platform can be scaled no matter how large the volume of data, and that’s the reason why most of the large organizations use Teradata.

CW : In the analytics sector, acquisitions were the trend in 2011, especially with you buying Aster Data and HP buying Vertica. Do you foresee a similar trend in future? Is this the way to go?

Jain: The trend will continue. Whether it is BI or big data, the whole gamut of analytics is widening. Now organizations are looking at executing analytics for an individual consumer than a group of consumers. In this situation, organizations providing such services will have to make acquisitions to build capabilities. Often, the analytics can be built in-house, but occasionally it is not viable. Therefore, I think this trend in the analytics domain will continue.

CW : So, is Teradata looking at other acquisitions?

Jain: Yes. If and when the opportunity arises, we will look at that possibility.

CW : Big data is a buzz-word. And there are organizations that already have BI capabilities. In such a scenario, how would you pitch big data to companies that already have BI resources?

Jain: This confusion arises because the big data has not been defined well enough. Big data is at the early stages, so its comprehension is low. People believe that big data is just large amounts of data. But, large volumes of data have always been residing within companies. Big data is a mix of various kinds of data like web-log data, unstructured, or machine data. Presently, there is a lot of data generated outside the organization than ever before. This wasn’t the case earlier. The volume generated online is enormous, and is certainly different from the traditional form of data. So the business requirements to utilize this kind of data are vastly different from the ones needed for traditional BI solutions. Most organizations have to mature in traditional data analytics, which has not happened yet. But certainly, the market is moving in that direction, and also towards big data.

CW : Few companies are looking at creating templates for pitching big data processes to smaller companies. Would this be a viable option?

Jain: I doubt it. BI and analytics are custom-built according to the needs of an organization. An attempt to pre-package solutions will fail. It has failed before and will happen in the future too. The reason for that is simple. Analytics depends on the individual company. Probably a data model can be built to provide a platform, but the data model has to be customized for your own business needs. So one can only make a high-level template, but not a ‘plug-n-play’ solution

CW : What role does Cloud play in analytics? Do you see it fulfilling its potential in this domain?

Jain: As far as I can see it, Cloud can facilitate business processes in very specific areas. It is great for a mobile platform; at the same time, it is not feasible to put the entire enterprise data on the Cloud. As long as it is a private Cloud it is fine because it is like an internal network. But, the public cloud is a concern. It works for a SME segment, but a large enterprise would not risk it. Even hybrid cloud would be fine because organization can decide on the kind of data that they choose to put on the public cloud. Private cloud is the primary focus for companies. But the public cloud can be used to make the results more pervasive.

CW : Would Teradata cater to smaller organizations, considering analytics is an option ideally suited for relatively large set-ups?

Jain: Globally, Teradata focuses on the top 3000 customers. We will not be looking at customers below a certain range where the need for analytical platform would be limited. Even in the future, this will be our target market. Retail, manufacturing, BFSI, and telecom are the sectors we focus on. In particular, retail and manufacturing as they are more consumer-driven.

CW : Number of smaller companies provide BI solutions. Does Teradata compete with them for similar solutions or are their products complimentary to your business solutions?

Jain: We provide an analytics platform and the data model. The smaller BI companies help in providing the reporting capabilities and the larger companies like us provide the back-end platform. So, I believe that smaller companies provide complimentary technology solutions.

CW : Your alliance with Oracle is interesting, considering that they have their own stack of solutions for big data. How does this work considering you compete with Oracle?

Jain: In the technology industry these days, companies that compete in a certain domain may collaborate in some other. We have alliances with organizations like Oracle and IBM. We have a number of common customers. Many of them might use Oracle products for their front-end reporting. So, it is in our best interest that Oracle’s products are in sync with our platform. While we compete with Oracle neck-to-neck on the platform business, when it comes to their BI and our platform, the two have to complement each other.

CW : Can you tell us about your partner ecosystem? What kind of partners are you looking at?

Jain: We work with all the major systems integrators in India, particularly the top 5 or 6, because many of our deals are structured in ways that are SI-driven. So, from a dedicated partnership perspective, we would restrict ourselves to the Tier 1 integrators. But if a project does arise, we would definitely work with Tier 2 players. During our three-year planning process, we look at companies that suit our business and partner with them accordingly. In case they do not fit in present situation, we would look at them in the consequent years. We are ideally looking at partners who are inclined towards the domestic market and have done good projects here.

CW : There is a slowdown in the economy. Does this push you to change strategy and look at the analytics sector differently?

Jain: We have a family of platforms at different price points. So, depending on the budget of the customer we can provide them a necessary platform that allows them to scale-up later on. In a downturn scenario, analytics has done well because companies want to maximize their revenue from the existing customers. In fact, this market has grown well through turmoil. There were concerns about how Q4 would pan out. But a number of sectors have done well. In a way I think that the Indian economy has performed better than expected.

CW : What can we expect from Teradata in 2012?

Jain: We are looking at a good customer acquisition base this year. We are in a great position to address the need for analytics in the market and expect 2012 to be good for us. Wherever we see a need for reinforcing alliances, we will ensure that we strengthen that area.

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