Jan 25, 2010 (10:01 AM EST)
Netezza Intros Entry Level Data Warehouse Appliance

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Netezza today released Skimmer, an entry-level data warehouse appliance with a ten-terabyte capacity and $125,000 price tag. Those stats put Skimmer in the heart of the mainstream data warehousing market, where Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database currently dominate.

"We're seeing customers starting to graduate to the need for high-performance data warehousing and data analytics," says Phil Francisco, Netezza's vice president, product management and product marketing. "They are looking at vendors like Oracle and Teradata, and they are not finding solutions that they can afford."

Competition will intensify later this year when Microsoft releases planned data warehouse appliances based on DATAllegro technology acquired in 2008. But Netezza isn't exactly taking Microsoft and Oracle head on. Rather, it's focusing on application-specific offerings from partners as well as data-mart and development needs.

Like any data warehouse appliance, Skimmer delivers preconfigured hardware and software that's ready to run. The hardware is based on Netezza's TwinFin architecture, which combines proprietary database accelerator cards with commodity blade servers and storage. Shared architecture and software ensure that queries developed and tested on Skimmer will deliver predictable performance on Netezza's larger TwinFin appliances, which scale into the petabytes. What's more, Skimmers can be used for data marts tethered to larger Netezza environments.

The true calling for Skimmer, and what may set it apart, is the potential for partner-developed applications. Kalido, for example, has already announced Kalido Kona Information Appliances to be built on Skimmer. With initial versions planned specifically for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, Kona appliances will preconfigure data integration, data modeling and master data management software on Netezza's new appliance.

"Skimmer offers a good platform that strengthens Netezza and its partner network," says Forrester analyst James Kobielus. "Partners will take the lead on software development, and there's strong upside and interest in ready-to-run analytic applications."

In fact, given growing interest in appliances, very few customers are now taking the old approach of separately purchasing and integrating database software and the hardware required for a data warehouse.

"The days of rolling your own warehouse are numbered," Kobielus says. "In today's market, it comes down to deciding which appliance from which vendor is right for your needs."

Netezza Skimmer is shipping immediately. Kalido Kona appliances are expected later this quarter. Pitney Bowes may be next out of the gate with Skimmer-based appliances bundling location intelligence and related predictive analytics software, Kobielus speculates.