It’s rare when a nine-month-old startup is invited to partner with a tech behemoth.

Consider that it took Box a decade to form a partnership with IBM and that Dropbox was seven before it got cozy with Microsoft.

But collaborative data pioneer Alation, which came out of stealth last March, and data management analytics stalwart Teradata are going to market together now.

Their aim, in the simplest possible terms, is to deliver a collaborative data catalog that brings trust in data to self-service analytics.

“Alation is going to bring revelation to Teradata,” Tony Baer, principal analyst at Ovum Research told CMSWire. He clearly liked his play on words.

Beyond Symbiotic

“This isn’t just another press release partnership,” Dan Graham, general manager of enterprise systems at Teradata, told CMSWire.

Instead he explained that the two big data vendors will market their products together, co-present at big data conferences, co-engineer and so on. Teradata will also resell Alation and Alation will support Teradata customers who use its products.

 Alation fills an important gap in Teradata’s “sentient enterprise” strategy. More on that in a minute.

Alation Refresher

For anyone who’s not familiar with Alation, its software captures relationships between data and people.

“Think of it as a Yelp for data,” said Alation CEO Satyen Sangani. Or in other words, its software looks at an analytical query and offers context such as whether the query has ever been run before, if a data set has been recently cleaned, and so on.

The idea is that it can point you to what’s been done in the past, what happened, so that you can find the fastest way to get the right answer.

“Whether it’s finding the right database to use, learning about best practice methods, appropriately modifying a query or asking an expert, Alation looks at engagement around data,” said Sangani.

That qualitative component is key to Teradata’s vision of a “sentient enterprise”.

What’s a Sentient Enterprise?

A “sentient enterprise" is one that can “listen to data to sense micro-trends, conduct analysis and make autonomous decisions with little or no human intervention at massive scale in real-time,” according to Oliver Ratzenberger, president of Teradata Labs.

He co-pioneered the concept with Mohan Sawhney of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. The idea is that the enterprise is viewed as a single organism.

Learning Opportunities

This is where Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture comes in. It allows analysts view data through one lens, without needing to care if it’s sitting in Teradata’s Data Warehouse, Teradata’s data analytics platform, Teradata Aster or Hadoop.

“The Sentient Enterprise is always evolving, with emergent intelligence that becomes progressively more sophisticated,” wrote Ratzenberger. In theory, it will be able to understand things on its own (no “help wanted” signs here) and make certain kinds of decisions without any human intervention. “

Sangani added, "Insights drive the business. There’s a race from data to decision. It’s what makes markets.”

You can’t help but think of automated trading.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

It’s worth noting that Teradata and Alation weren’t necessarily looking for each other, but that their mutual customers, like Safeway and eBay, were already marrying their products to glean insights faster than their competitors could.

At October’s Teradata Partners Conference there was a light bulb moment, customers would be better served if they worked together.

The Alation partnership might extend Teradata’s lead in the highly competitive, data management analytics marketplace where Gartner ranks it as a leader among leaders— but there are 16 other vendors in that particular Magic Quadrant.

“This (the Alation deal) will help Teradata solidify its customer base,” said Baer.

As for Alation, it wins access to Teradata’s well-established customer base, instant enterprise worthiness, and a large fleet of Teradata salespeople hocking its product.

“This is a very big deal for Alation,” added Baer.