My Database Can Beat Up Your Database

If the press releases are any indication, there seems to be a heady competition among database vendors these days to see which can build the biggest, baddest database ever.

Take IBM, which announced this winter that in partnership with EMC and Oracle, it had built the world’s largest single-system data warehouse – 82 terabytes of deal-sealing proof that it could protect British Telecom on the customer playground. The system sounds pretty hefty. After all, it could hold enough information to fill three-drawer file cabinets lined up from St. John’s to Calgary.

But that’s not so tough, say the folks at NCR, who lay claim to the world’s largest data warehouse in operation. Wal-Mart’s data warehouse (for the record, it uses parallel architecture rather than single-system) could hold a whopping 101 terabytes, enough to stuff those file cabinets from St. John’s to Whitehorse. And Wal-Mart is just one of 166 customers with systems exceeding a terabyte, a spokesperson says. “NCR is the only company with more than 100 data warehouses of 1 terabyte or greater on a single platform.”

Jabs back IBM: “IBM now counts 187 customers with more than a terabyte of data, eclipsing NCR’s.”

Of course, as everyone knows, size isn’t everything. The volume of data actually stored is more significant, says Richard Winter of Waltham, Mass.-based Winter Corp. Toward that end, Winter Corp. was expected to announce last month new winners of a contest for the world’s largest database. Visit

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