Introduction to IBM Netezza---An integrated database solution

Jim Sun


Netezza was founded in 1999 and acquired by IBM in 2010 for $1.7B. Netezza is a DWA (Data Warehouse Appliance) that integrates database, server and storage technologies. Unlike other database management tools, Netezza provides its users an all-in-one solution for their organizations database management requirements, and Netezza can handle very high data volumes.

What is DWA?

DWA, short for "Data Warehouse Appliance", is an integration of database, server and storage technology. Like Apple's iPod product, a DWA is a black box for its end users; it requires very low maintaining efforts from its end users and administrators. Also it provides users standard interface and easier operation---just think about iPod again, actually not only in iPod, the user interfaces in almost all Apple's product categories have similar feelings and super easy operation (okay, I admit I am an Apple fan). In general, a DWA has the following advantages compared to other tools:

  • Dedicated device---typically there is one dedicated device that will handle all the work
  • Optimized for a purpose---for example, IBM Netezza is designed specifically for extremely complex workloads and super high volumes of data flow
  • Complete solution---database, server and data storage functions are all included in the DWA
  • Standard interface
  • Easier operation---the solution should be well-organized, which means that the developing and customizing requirements will be decreased to minimum

What is Netezza?

As the business questions are becoming more and more complex, Netezza is designed to handle extremely complicated business scenario with better performance. Since it was founded, Netezza has been sold to digital media, energy, retailing, telecommunication and many other industries. By 2010, when it was acquired by IBM, Netezza had been sold to 373 customers worldwide. From 2010, Netezza started to support major programming models such as Hadoop, MapR, JAVA, C++ and Python, Netezza uses IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator as the foundation, and we can expect it to be leveraged to support many more other database tools.

One step further

Although Netezza requires less maintenance and administrative efforts, it does need users to be familiar with Linux and coding.

  • BASH: Netezza's Linux version uses a scripting language named BASH. BASH automates your jobs in Netezza, it also generates ETL processes since there is no native ETL tool in Netezza.
  • AMPP Architecture: AMPP stands for Asymmetric Massively Parallel Processing, it is a two-tiered system designed to improve large query perfromance. AMPP is also the core technology for performance improvement

Voice from opponents

  • Netezza has achieved great success as an integrated database appliance for complex data flow throughput and huge volume data sets. But there are some negative comments coming out as there are more competitors in the database market.
  • IBM will abandon Netezza eventually because their DB2 BLU system is better and the seemingly unlimited data volume from Netezza is insignificant.
  • Hadoop could be a good alternative in the large volume data market because the open-source application is being developed a lot faster than Netezza, and the cooperation between Hadoop and SAP HANA can cover Hadoop's lower performance issues.
  • There is hardly another database that can have better performance than in-memory-enabled SAP HANA, and HANA is dominating "
  • Netezza uses a lot of Linux and Shell Script, it even needs coding to generate ETL processes.
    In order to fully explore and understand the IBM Netezza offering, we have prepared a short guide to help you understand why IBM needs the Netezza solution. Just click to download it.