A recent buzzword you may have heard is “zero-copy” everything…”zero-copy” Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), “zero-copy” architecture, or “zero-copy” infrastructure. We believe that this term distracts from the true goal of customer data management. While there is some merit to the concept of “zero-copy”, ultimately the problems it seeks to address are secondary in importance to other goals. We sat down with Mike Anderson, CTO and co-founder of Tealium, to get the ins and outs of this hot topic in our blog, Tealium’s Take on “Zero-Copy.”
Question: With this emerging term of “zero-copy” architecture, what is Tealium’s take on this approach?
Mike Anderson: Our focus is high-quality consented data. We’re focused on the real-time use case. When customers come to a website and start a conversation with a brand, we believe that is where we should leverage data to make a difference and provide the best experience. So, what does that mean about how we store data? Are we a “zero-copy” CDP? No, I don’t think a “zero-copy” CDP exists. When I think about data, I think of systems that are tuned for a purpose like a Customer Data Warehouse (CDW). You need a CDP that sits above it and gets information about the visitor as it is being created and goes on a journey. From our perspective, the Tealium CDP, and CDW should work together to share data back and forth. So will you have a copy of it? Yes, you will.
The challenge is that “zero-copy” isn’t what the market wants. They want a single source of the truth. The data gets copied into a high-performing platform for an “in the moment” experience… That’s where we play. “zero-copy” isn’t a bad thing for performance reasons like a batch-based CDP. We focus on the real-time data use case, so we can be in front of the customer at the moment that matters, and put a dazzling experience in front of them.
Question: It sounds like sometimes copying the data is worth it… Is a truly “zero-copy” architecture the goal for businesses?
Mike Anderson: It’s not what you want. What you want is a source of truth and you don’t want multiple systems out there that create conflicts of the truth. Copying data for a purpose makes total sense.
Question: Are there cost benefits for a “zero-copy” architecture versus using your CDP as a centralized place?
Mike Anderson: I’m sure some CDPs charge based on the amount of data that you store… But at Tealium, we don’t. What “zero-copy” architecture is saying is that there should only be one place to store data, and that’s the CDW or the “hard drive”. As a “zero-copy” CDP, you can run a query in the CDW, prep it, copy it over, and send the data to Marketo so they can do what they need to do.
Cost benefits? I don’t see them. Someone has to collect, process, and move the data into the CDW. Whether you’re with a “zero-copy” CDP or a real-time CDP like Tealium, the idea is that someone has to collect the data and put it into the CDW. You’re going to pay for that. We charge only on event volume and syndicating it to where it needs to go. We don’t charge you based on the gigabytes based on the customer information that we store. So no, there aren’t any cost benefits over Tealium on that front.
The big challenge is that “zero-copy” CDPs struggle to handle real-time data. They have to wait for the data to flow into the CDW, wait for the data to rest, and then they can use it. So the question becomes, do you need the real-time use case or not? I feel that businesses that actively engage with their customer when their customer is ready to have the conversation are going to win.