Teradata acquires Aster Data, boosts ‘big data’ wares

Teradata said Thursday it plans to buy data warehousing and analtyics startup Aster Data Systems, continuing a run of consolidation in the market for technology that can process ever-growing amounts of “big data.”

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Teradata, which had already acquired an 11 percent stake in Aster Data last year, will pay another US$263 million for the remainder, according to a statement.

“Big data” refers not only to the scope of today’s information but also to the presence of both structured and unstructured data “involving complex interrelationships that do not lend themselves to analysis with today’s traditional techniques,” Teradata said.

While Teradata is already a well-established player in data warehousing, Aster’s technologies will help it tackle the challenge of analyzing such workloads, it added.

The Aster Data acquisition is the second significant purchase by Teradata in recent months as it seeks to broaden its market footprint. Last year, it scooped up integrated marketing software vendor Aprimo for $525 million.

Teradata’s move to buy Aster Data is a good one for a number of reasons, said Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus. “[Aster has] been on a roll, getting customers, and just generally rocking and rolling,” he said.

Aster’s technical architecture is also capable of handling both analytic and transactional workloads on different nodes, he said. This provides Teradata with a key piece of IP to use in the “ongoing war” against Oracle and its Exadata platform, according to Kobielus. Oracle has touted Exadata’s ability to handle similarly mixed workloads.

Teradata will also benefit from the work Aster Data has done to support the MapReduce framework for processing large data sets, Kobielus said.

While MapReduce programming requires specialized skills, Aster has developed tools that significantly cut down the learning curve by tying MapReduce to standard SQL, according to its website.

These tools will help Teradata “take MapReduce capabilities to the mainstream market,” said Darryl McDonald, executive vice president of applications, and business development and chief marketing officer, during a conference call.

Aster Data’s platform is also available for cloud-based deployments on Amazon Web Services, AppNexus, Dell’s Data Cloud, and Terremark, according to its website.

While Aster’s software is currently sold via perpetual licenses, Teradata will consider adding subscription offerings as well, an spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Aster deal leaves one less specialized database vendor in the market, which has also recently seen Hewlett-Packard move to buy Vertica. Remaining likely acquisition targets include ParAccel, Kobielus said.

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