Improving performance of the data center isn’t always about newer servers and bigger bandwidth. One technology that is coming to the forefront essentially takes the temperature of data to determine if its hot – that is, being used frequently – or cold, rarely being accessed.

In such a scenario, data that is deemed to be hot is moved onto a center’s fastest storage units while data that is deemed to be cold is moved onto the slowest storage units.

Enterprise data warehouse vendor Teradata recently introduced such a technology, which it calls Teradata Virtual Warehouse. Scott Gnau, Teradata’s head of development, says while the concept seems fairly simple, the challenge was in coming up with the technology that could automatically sort through the data, determine what is hot and what is cold, and automatically migrate the data without user or administrator intervention.

“It’s a way of boosting performance without having to make a big investment into new infrastructure,” says Gnau. “Internally, you may have business units that require high performance – extremely fast access to data – and you may have business units that don’t have such immediate needs. The technology is able to automatically migrate the data by looking at usage patterns.”

In a data warehouse environment it means the hottest data, or data most likely used in support of real time decision making, will run on the highest performing machines, and data that ages or is used increasingly less is migrated to the less expensive or older machines.

At last month’s Teradata Partners users conference, the company also unveiled what it says is the world’s first solid state drive (SSD) data warehouse appliance. Teradata says the device is able to perform at speeds 150 times faster than those of conventional hard disk drives.

Gnau acknowledged that when the appliance goes on sale, likely in the first half of next year, it will sell at a premium to standard hard disk drives. However, he said some companies will see the advantage in having faster access to data for making business intelligence decisions. In particular, he pointed to companies involved in electronic commerce as prime customers, where personalized offers need to be presented to the customer as they click through a purchase.

Teradata includes some of the largest e-commerce companies among its customers base, including, eBay, Travelocity, and Wal-Mart.

 In addition to the increased speed, Teradata says the SSD appliance requires only about 7% of the floor space of an equivalent hard drive appliance and is 50% more energy efficient.


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