Teradata levels up for customers in the cloud
“We’re meeting customers wherever they are. By taking our cloud capabilities to a new level in the public clouds, we’re making it that much easier for our customers to succeed.”
Embracing the cloud opportunity
Widely known for its advanced analytics technology and services, Teradata’s core strength is helping businesses drive better outcomes with data. The $2.5B company has led the data and analytics space for over 35 years.
For some Teradata customers, their “data center of gravity” is shifting from on-premises to cloud. Gartner predicts that the cloud shift will affect over $1 trillion in IT spending by 2020. With that in mind, Teradata started offering its own cloud capabilities in 2011 and expanded into the public cloud in 2015. The goal was not only to enable popular Teradata software on AWS and Azure, but also to fully empower customers with the cloud benefits of self-service, elasticity, and pay-as-you-go. These attributes fit neatly with Teradata’s larger vision of breaking down barriers to enable lightning fast, connected decision-making.
“Organizations need to become like sentient beings,” says Ashutosh Tiwary, Teradata vice president and general manager of cloud. “They need to make data and knowledge freely accessible and available to everyone so that insights can drive the business agenda.” He cites The Sentient Enterprise, a book co-authored by Teradata’s chief product officer Oliver Ratzesberger, which charts a course for business survival in an increasingly data-centric world.
In short, Teradata and the cloud are a perfect fit. But the company needed a little help speeding up its ambitious rollout of managed offerings across the leading public cloud platforms.
Our team is your team
Tiwary approached Slalom with his vision for building an advanced cloud engineering organization at Teradata. Together, we hatched a plan to support and accelerate it in one of our regional product engineering centers. A Slalom team would begin developing a self-service management console for Teradata’s cloud service immediately and integrate Teradata recruits as the work unfolded.
Soon after, Abhishek Lal joined Teradata as director of product development for the cloud offering, initially working with an all-Slalom team.
“On day one, Slalom provided people that worked well with each other, were very, very skilled, and were ready to start building. As new people came on board, they could see that this was a modern software and cloud services build environment.”
Lal credits Slalom’s product engineering methodology with providing a strong template for development. “Slalom’s approach was especially valuable in putting the onus on us, as the client, to be very clear about what we wanted to validate—without slowing us down.”
The extraordinary partnership continued for over a year, allowing Teradata to build up its IntelliCloud service features and in-house team quickly. Even after the new organization moved to its own space, a few people remained integrated in a Slalom team part-time and many IntelliCloud new hires spent time at Slalom as part of onboarding.
Close collaboration had the bonus benefit of setting Slalom up to rapidly explore new product ideas for Teradata. Over time, our engineers developed familiarity with Teradata’s technology stack and formed strong relationships across the company. The team also gained an understanding of the company’s customers and their needs.
“It resonated with Teradata that we could use our methodology to take an idea, develop a proof of concept, build a backlog, define the minimum viable product, and get to a decision point in a four or six-week period,” says Joel Forman, a Slalom managing director who worked closely with Teradata leaders from the beginning. In one case, we prototyped an unprecedented application in just a couple of months—about a third of the time it would have taken if we’d come in cold.
“It’s been very useful to have that depth of understanding to incubate ideas quickly,” says Lal. “The cost was so low to test things out. Even when we didn’t move forward with productizing a new idea, we learned a lot.”
Building serverless, together
The biggest win of the collaboration is the IntelliCloud Management Console. We helped Teradata design and build it for AWS—and then extend it for Azure.
The serverless architecture uses Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and other AWS services to build up the platform. Microservices enable customer definition, security, capacity monitoring, scaling up and down, metering, and everything else that Teradata customers can now manage with the console.
“It’s called the management console because the user experience is front-and-center for the customer,” explains Lal. “But there’s a ton of engineering behind the scenes to enable the three key experiences of self-service, elasticity, and pay-as-you-go.”
“Being serverless reduces the operations cost. There are no servers to manage and compliance is much simpler. Everything is more event-based, and so much easier to operate.”
Building with serverless technologies requires a cultural shift. Traditionally, a separate organization would stand up the infrastructure and then the delivery team would build the application on it. With serverless, you have to think differently because the team is responsible for both developing the infrastructure as code and the applications as services.
“I think we were able to help Teradata’s IntelliCloud team adjust to serverless and that DevOps mentality, just by example,” says Slalom solution principal Jeremiah Dangler. “You don’t see it in a lot of companies.”
Ready for what’s next
Today, Teradata has a thriving cloud engineering organization spread across San Diego, Seattle, and Pune, India. IntelliCloud is getting rave reviews on AWS and will soon be released on Microsoft Azure. “Interest and adoption have exceeded my expectations,” says Lal.
The IntelliCloud Management Console has been so popular that customers are now requesting the same experience for their on-premises Teradata services. “Customers see it as the new way of working with their Teradata systems,” Lal explains.
“We’re much further along with Slalom’s help than if we had had to do it all on our own. They brought key advantages to the table—the ability to partner in a flexible and unique way, raw technical talent, and a development methodology that provided clarity up front and drove success.”
“Everybody is just high-fiving at this point,” says Forman. “We’re stepping back, and it feels good. We helped them move forward very, very quickly.”