IBM Shakes Up Data Warehousing Market

Wednesday Oct 27th 2010 by Julian Stuhler

IBM has been on the acquisition trail again, and this time it was Netezza's turn to take the call. In this month's column, we'll take a look at some of the possible implications of the purchase, as well as rounding up a couple other significant announcements around pureScale and DB2 for z/OS.

IBM has been on the acquisition trail again, and this time it was Netezza's turn to take the call. In this month's column, we'll take a look at some of the possible implications of the purchase, as well as rounding up a couple other significant announcements around pureScale and DB2 for z/OS.

Netezza Acquisition

In a deal that broke cover on 20th September 2010 (the same week as the Oracle World conference) IBM announced its intention to pay a cool $1.7 billion for Netezza, the warehousing appliance specialist.

On the face of it this is a strange move. After all, in recent years IBM has poured significant resources into the development of its own warehousing "appliance", in the shape of the Smart Analytics System (originally known as the Balanced Configuration Unit or Dynamic Warehouse). This is a highly integrated solution consisting of specific IBM hardware, the DB2 database engine and additional analytics and reporting tools to provide a complete "warehouse in a box" environment. Netezza was a prime competitor in this space, with Oracle, Teradata and Microsoft among the other major players.

However this acquisition makes a lot of sense for both IBM and Netezza on a number of levels. Firstly, Netezza already had a close strategic partnership with IBM, basing some of its key products on IBM server hardware so IBM will be able to immediately deploy those solutions with no underlying platform change.

Secondly, although there is some overlap the Netezza products could be made to slot in quite neatly below the existing low-end Smart Analytics System offerings, providing customers with a lower cost of entry and allowing IBM to compete more directly with Oracle's Exadata on price. This will broaden the overall appeal of the Smart Analytics System and make it possible for IBM to offer a more natural upgrade path from a relatively basic but inexpensive high performance appliance through to the more fully featured solutions that are already within the Smart Analytics System portfolio. Finally, IBM has just purchased a large chunk of market share, further strengthening its warehousing credentials and opening up significant new upsell opportunities from existing Netezza users.

From Netezza's perspective, this is a great opportunity to leverage IBM's considerable financial muscle and give their very successful product the sort of long-term stability, R&D and marketing that would have been unthinkable as a stand-alone organization. Although Netezza's products are rightly praised for their straightforward setup and administration, this move will also bring IBM's considerable services capability into play - something that Netezza had to rely on third-party Systems Integrators for in the past.

IBM will no doubt make further announcements on exactly how the Netezza products will be integrated if and when the deal closes in the 4th quarter of 2010. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the other vendors react to this development.

DB2 for LUW Packaging Announcements

IBM also made some interesting announcements On October 5th regarding the packaging of DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows. I want to mention two of particular interest:

  • The pureScale feature I have written about several times in recent months will now be available to all DB2 Workgroup Edition users for no additional charge. Previously, this feature (which provides a highly sophisticated clustering capability to improve resilience and allow applications to scale more easily with little or no code change) was only available as a chargeable feature for DB2 Enterprise Edition. At the same time, IBM is easing the restrictions on the supported hardware platforms for pureScale to include all IBM x servers (previously this was limited to just three specific higher-end models). These two changes dramatically increase the number of users that will be able to benefit from this exciting new feature, and I'm looking forward to working with customers on their first pureScale implementation projects in the near future.
  • A new package known as DB2 Advanced Enterprise Edition has been created. This sits above DB2 Enterprise Edition, and bundles a large number of features that are normally separately chargeable. These include Optim Performance Manager, deep compression, label based access control, query patroller and workload management. The best part of this is that the list price for Advanced Enterprise Edition is just 10% more than plain old Enterprise Edition - that's a lot of valuable new functionality for a relatively small price increase. An "upgrade" part number is also available, so if you're an existing Enterprise Edition user with any of these optional features it's worth checking to see if you can save some money at your next renewal.

A number of other interesting announcements were made at the same time (such as increases to the limits for DB2 Workgroup Edition) so if you're on DB2 LUW I'd encourage you to take a look at the full announcement using the link at the end of this article.

DB2 10 for z/OS

Finally, a quick word on the new release of DB2 on the mainframe. DB2 10 for z/OS has been in beta for some time, and IBM has just announced that product would become generally available on Friday 22nd October 2010. I have had the opportunity to talk to a large number of DB2 customers involved in the beta program as part of a DB2 10 Business Value White Paper, and there have been some very positive stories on the benefits of the new release. I'll come back to this in a future column, but in the meantime I've included the links to the full announcement and my white paper below.

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