Data Warehousing Appliance Sector Heats Up

Ever since introducing its debut data warehousing appliance in March, DATAllegro has competed aggressively against appliance pioneer Netezza

Data warehousing appliance specialist DATAllegro Inc. is, for all practical purposes, only several months old. But ever since introducing its debut appliance back in March, DATAllegro has competed aggressively against data warehousing appliance pioneer Netezza Inc. And Netezza, for its part, has responded in kind.

Last month, for example, DATAllegro entered into a technology alliance with business intelligence (BI) giant Business Objects SA. The alliance, which the two companies announced at the TDWI 2005 conference, should translate into improved interoperability between DATAllegro’s products and those of Business Objects; as well as joint sales, marketing, and development efforts. But the upshot—for DATAllegro, in any case—is a PR triumph.

“From DATAllegro’s perspective, [the alliance] serves to enhance the credibility of the company and its products,” writes Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis. But what’s the takeaway for Business Objects? It’s pretty straightforward, says Schiff: DATAllegro gives Business Objects another destination platform for its XI suite.

The big winner, Schiff suggests, is DATAllegro. “This [data warehousing appliance segment] is an area that is now established due to the efforts of [DATAllegro’s] pioneering competitor, Netezza, which launched its first data warehouse appliance in September 2002,” he writes. “With many high technology products, the proof is in the partnerships, and while Netezza certainly has a strong and credible list, DATAllegro’s new partnership with Business Objects is definitely a strong start. In addition to providing new sales opportunities to both companies, it will likely encourage other BI vendors to take a closer look at DATAllegro, rather than letting Business Objects have it all to itself.”

Last month’s announcement was part of a consistent trend. Just look at what happened in July, when Netezza announced that it had quadrupled the footprint of its largest data warehouse appliances: DATAllegro responded in kind. The company unveiled the DATAllegro C25, a high-end data warehousing appliance that supports up to 25 terabytes of data—at $18,000 a terabyte, tops in the industry, according to DATAllegro. Of course, when it announced its P3 appliance in March, DATAllegro seemed content to contest the 1-5 terabyte data warehousing segment. “What we really try to do is fit into the gap between Oracle and Teradata,” said DATAllegro CEO Stuart Frost at the time. “Oracle runs out of steam after 1 TB or so, and Teradata isn’t really interested in sites less than 5 TB. So we think it’s an under-served part of the market.”

Frost might just as well have said that Netezza doesn’t pay all that much attention to sub-5 TB sites, either. And with Netezza scaling up to 50 TB (with the NPS 10400 appliance) and 100 TB (with the NPS 10800), DATAllegro saw its opportunity. It’s part of a strategy in which the company has carefully targeted smaller capacity segments than those contested by Netezza or Teradata.

Netezza Not Sitting Still

While DATAllegro’s Business Objects alliance was a PR coup, it’s by no means unique. Netezza, for example, has been a member of Business Objects’ Technology Alliance partner program since February of 2003. Moreover, notes Current Analysis’ Schiff, Netezza also counts BI powerhouses Cognos Inc., MicroStrategy Inc., SAS Institute Inc., and SPSS Inc. among its partner stable.

And, of course, Netezza announced an ambitious expansion of its NPS line in the aforementioned 10400 and 10800 appliances. The large 50 and 100 TB footprints of both appliances take it further into the territory of high-end data warehousing specialist Teradata—and help to differentiate it from upstart competitor DATAllegro, Schiff says. However, Netezza won’t actually start shipping its new NPS systems until December of this year.

Netezza has worked to grow its roster of partners, too. Last month, for example, the company expanded its relationship with Systech Solutions Inc. The two partners announced the “Global Software Porting Center,” a services offering that taps the expertise of project management professionals, software architects, and developers to help quickly port BI applications to Netezza’s NPS appliances. Systech is a developer of customized BI solutions. It should provide much of the expertise in BI and data warehousing practices, says Robert Lerner, also with Current Analysis. “Overall, the Global Software Porting Center could open a range of new opportunities for Netezza,” Lerner writes, noting that “the savings in time and cost for porting to NPS, in tandem with the speed with which it enables queries, could prove attractive and help the company strengthen its presence against” competitors large and small.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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