IBM Fills Out Netezza Lineup With High Capacity Appliance

In the months since IBM closed its Netezza acquisition, the data warehouse appliance pioneer has been busy, if the announcements at this week’s Enzee are any indication. An enthusiastic crowd – 1000 strong – heard CEO Jim Baum deliver the news: new hardware, software and partnerships.The biggest news was The Appliance Formerly Known As Cruiser, now known as the Netezza High Capacity Appliance (HCA). A wag made up some t-shirts bearing the acronym TAFKAC and did quite well. IBM is aiming to push the size perception for Netezza higher. How high? Half a PB in a rack. You can scale it to 10PB.

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EMC Jumps Into ADBMS Appliance Game

The Data Computing Appliance, first deliverable from EMC’s acquisition of Greenplum, was announced last month, only 75 days after the acquisition closed, and it doesn’t lack for ambition.  Pat Gelsinger, President and Chief Operating Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure, pointed to the high level opportunity: unlocking the “hidden value” of enormous and growing data assets every company is increasingly holding, and often failing to leverage. The appliance will reach many hitherto untapped resources in the data centers that EMC occupies. Adding EMC’s manufacturing, sales and marketing, and reference architectures to the Greenplum IP brings what Gelsinger calls Greenplum’s “first phase” to its completion. And begins what is likely to be a sizable battle with Oracle, Teradata and IBM, if EMC mounts campaigns and spending to match its ambitious vision. Read more of this post

IBM Acquires Netezza – ADBMS Consolidation Heats Up

IBM’s bid to acquire Netezza makes it official; the insurgents are at the gates. A pioneering and leading ADBMS player, Netezza is in play for approximately $1.7 billion or 6 times revenues [edited 9/30; previously said “earnings,” which is incorrect.] When it entered the market in 2001, it catalyzed an economic and architectural shift with an appliance form factor at a dramatically different price point. Titans like Teradata and Oracle (and yes, IBM) found themselves outmaneuvered as Netezza mounted a steadily improving business, adding dozens of new names every quarter, continuing to validate its market positioning as a dedicated analytic appliance. It’s no longer alone there; some analytic appliance play is now in the portfolio of most sizable vendors serious about the market. Read more of this post

Oracle Exadata: Early Signs Promising

Exadata is looking good. In the past few months, I’ve had the chance to talk to several early adopters of Oracle Exadata V2, some in connection with a sponsored white paper Oracle has just published. It’s still early, but I see this product as a milestone, regardless of its commercial success. That is still to be determined, although I wouldn’t bet against it. How it will be affected by Oracle’s execution of the Sun acquisition is another open question, and the recent surprise layoffs, which showed that either the announced expectations were laughably off base or Ellison’s early announcements about  hiring plans were less than candid, don’t bode too well for the near term. Rob Enderle made some strong and provocative points in his guest post here. Read more of this post

Teradata Transition On Course in Steady Quarter, With Exciting New Offerings Ahead

How good was Teradata’s Q3? Not bad, but no improvement over a so far lackluster year, which nonetheless has seen the stock  price rise steadily. In 2008,  the striking rise in Teradata’s Linux revenue growth was matched only by the corresponding drop in its Unix revenue, and that “steady as she goes” performance continues through its still unevenly applied OS transition. In Q3, revenues were down a little (3%) year over year, and margin was flat (down 0.6%). YTD product revenues are down 11%.  Service revenues were up 5% for the quarter but only 2% YTD.  Still, net income rose 5%, in part because of strong expense controls. Since early 2008, Teradata has lost a little momentum through a difficult economy compared to its rivals at Oracle and IBM. Its next transition – after independence from NCR and the OS shift – is a product portfolio change catalyzed by the growth of appliance competitors like Netezza. So far, Teradata has managed to drive the product changes into the market well, claiming 65% of its appliance sales are new names. The hot new all-SSD Extreme Performance Appliance is now coming on-stream, and will create a new category advantage if, as Teradata believes, there are customers willing to pay for its spectacular performance. Read more of this post

Netezza Still Tops ADBMS Insurgents

Netezza’s 2009 so far has demonstrated that its ADBMS leadership is firming up. Several vendors have navigated a difficult year in the general economic sphere and in their own market’s quest for visibility, and Netezza has pushed forward with some aggressive moves from atop the pack. Phil Francisco, Vice President of Product Management and Product Marketing, has just come off an event swing (with Curt Monash as a keynote speaker at most.) Phil reports that the decision to take the story to the customers, instead of relying on their vanishing travel budgets to come to a centralized event, paid off well, with over 1500 interactions.
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IBM’s Smart Analytics System: More Than An Appliance?

When is an appliance not an appliance? When it’s more. On July 28, IBM’s Software Group and Systems and Technology Group (i.e., the hardware folks) hosted an analyst event to introduce the Smart Analytics System.The discussion began with a series of conversations about the value of “workload optimization,” or the effective tuning of processors, storage, memory and network components with software used for information management.  Not controversial, but hardly news. IBM claims to be raising the bar, though, with the promise of a system that is already tuned, and attuned to the needs of its purchaser, at a level far beyond appliances that other vendors have delivered: appliances, if you will, not only predesigned for specific use cases, but customized for specific instances of those use cases. It’s no accident that IBM never called the Smart Analytics System an “appliance.” Extending the Smart brand here is a powerful move, and IBM appears poised to make good on its promise. Read more of this post

ParAccel Rocks the TPC-H – Will See Added Momentum

ParAccel, another of the analytic database upstarts, has weighed in on Sun hardware with a record-shattering benchmark that its competitors have thus far avoided – the 30 TB TPC-H. It’s been two years since anyone has published a 30 TB TPC-H, and only 10 of any size (all smaller) have been published in the past year. One can scoff (many do) at this venerable institution, but TPC benchmarks are a rite of passage, and a badge of engineering prowess. The ParAccel Analytic Database (PADB) has set new records, raising its profile dramatically in one fell swoop. PADB came in at 16x the price/performance of Oracle, the prior leader (and only other vendor willing to tackle the 30Tb benchmark to date.) PADB, running on Sun Opteron 2356 servers, Sun Fire™ X4540 storage servers and OpenSolaris™, was 7x faster on queries and 4.6x faster loading the data than the 2 year old Oracle result. And because of its architecture, the construction and tuning of indexes and partitioning strategies were not needed. TPC rules are specific about having product in GA within 90 days, so one can expect to see PADB version 2.0, on which the benchmark was based, out in Q3.

ParAccel has seen some skepticism in the analyst community because of its relatively small published number of customers. It claims a dozen, and half are listed on its web site. Other vendors, like Vertica and Greenplum, have been very forthcoming promoting theirs, but both have more time in the market. PADB was released in Q4 2007 and really began its arc in 2008; Vertica has a year head start, and Greenplum even more. Rumors have also floated about whether CTO and founder Barry Zane was leaving. I had a conversation with Barry in late June to discuss the business and the benchmarks. He was clearly excited about the benchmarks, in which he was very involved, even working on the full disclosure report personally  – “It got to be like a hobby for me,” he said – and he was quite clear that he is not going anywhere. Read more of this post

Dataupia – Optimism for 2009

I recently had the chance to chat with John O’Brien, CTO and co-founder of MPP data warehouse appliance vendor Dataupia (pronounced like “utopia”). He was in an upbeat mood, as the company leverages the recent addition to its B round of financing secured late last year to drive business to the next level. With a new CEO (former Cognos senior vice president of world operations Tony Sirianni), a growing number of references, prospects turning into customers, and OEM partners supplementing its growing direct sales force, prospects appear good. Now fielding some 60 employees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dataupia can press their value proposition of being “well matched to prospects’ needs for lower price, flexibility, and minimal execution costs for changing or supplementing existing architectures.”

Dataupia is climbing the scale lists – its largest install is 150 TB at Subex, hosting an OSS system for British Telecom. Marketing VP Samantha Stone has begun to push out press releases touting customer wins, always an encouraging sign. The wins in telecom are being supplemented by opportunities in other spaces such as the intriguing traffic information analysis system at ITIS (details on the company’s web site). New solution categories highlight the emerging opportunities that follow an economic change like the one appliances are driving. “We’ve taken another zero off the cost,” says O’Brien. “Now it’s a matter of only a few tens of thousands to get started on applications that seemed out of reach before for many firms.”

O’Brien believes that a key differentiator is that customers don’t connect to Dataupia directly, but through their primary platform: Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and now IBM DB2 (although no production references for the latter are available yet.) “When customers hit a pain point, architecture is a constraint for other DBMSs. We appear to be a data store for that database, so the style of application design and usage doesn’t need to change.” Dataupia can use transactional tables from the primary DBMS  – their optimizers sit atop its added one.  Multidimensional aggregates can replace materialized views. So, “agility” becomes a key message. Teardown and reconfiguration are easier, hence faster and cheaper. Less DBA optimization time and quick install are powerful value propositions.

To get to the next level, Dataupia will have to add some features: replication, disaster recovery and internationalization top customer wish lists. As Dataupia turns its sights from getting early reference customers to using its improving finances to drive growth, its more formalized structure and sales processes should help it move towards another financing round as the economy turns upward next year. Then, O’Brien asserts, the firm will aspire to much more rapid expansion.