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Netezza taps NEC for data warehouse kit

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Data warehouse appliance maker Netezza - which will be coming under pressure Oracle and IBM, who want a bigger slice of the data analytics hardware and software business - has inked a deal with Japanese server maker NEC that will see the two cooperate on creating a new line of Netezza hardware based on NEC's products.

Netezza launched a slimmed down appliance for supporting ad hoc data base crunching called Skimmer two weeks ago that marries the Netezza field programmable gate array (FPGA) co-processors and its heavily tweaked version of PostgreSQL to IBM's x64-based BladeCenter S blade servers. In August, Netezza launched its midrange and high-end data warehousing appliances, based on racks of IBM's BladeCenter-H chassis and HS22 Xeon 5500 two-socket blade servers.

These machines are known as the TwinFins because they link an HS22 blade to an FPGA blade so each core in the x64 blade gets its own dedicated FPGA for accelerating database joins, sorts, and filtering.

Jim Baum, Netezza's president and chief executive officer, was pretty cagey about exactly what Netezza and NEC were cooking up, but he said the first appliance jointly created by the two companies would be called the InfoFrame DWH Appliance and that it would be ready to sell in April. Baum would not discuss if the NEC lineup would look like the Skimmer and TwinFin products, with different configurations aimed at different price points and use cases, but did say "there will likely be variants" like these.

Under the deal, NEC will manufacture, distribute, and sell the jointly developed data warehouse appliances. The deal that Netezza has with IBM is strictly an OEM hardware relationship, where Netezza buys raw IBM iron and works with Big Blue to integrate its FPGAs and software into an appliance. IBM does not sell the Skimmer or TwinFin appliances.

But that doesn't mean Netezza is at all backing away from these products. "We are very committed to IBM for the TwinFin family of products and we continue to build and sell IBM-based appliances," Baum explained in an email interview, confirming that it has 150 people dedicated to this task.

Baum said that the deal with NEC was broader and deeper in some respects, since the resulting NEC-branded data warehouse appliances will be sold worldwide by its 3,000-strong salesforce. The initial focus will be to sell the NEC-Netezza appliances in the Asia/Pacific region and Japan, although they will eventually be available wherever NEC sells enterprise IT gear. Netezza launched the first of its appliances in 2003, and NEC has been a reseller of the products in Japan since 2006.

Historically, NEC has been an OEM or manufacturing partner with a slew of PC and server makers, taking whatever route it can to get into data centers and on to desktops. In the server racket, NEC and Stratus Technologies have a partnership to create fault tolerant x64-based servers, and more recently, a few years back it inked a deal with Unisys to co-develop a line of high-end x64 servers based on Intel's Xeon MP (soon to be Nehalem-EX or Xeon 7500) processors. ®

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