RIP Netezza, IBM’s FPGA-powered data warehousing dream

www.theregister.co.uk | 7/3/2019 | Staff
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IBM finally pulled the plug on Netezza on 30 June, a family of data warehousing and analytics appliances that have been around for the past 15 years.

All of the models have reached the end of support, and no new Netezza boxes will ever be made - IBM has effectively killed the brand, and salted the earth.

IBM - Delaware - Business

This sounds surprising, when you consider that IBM purchased the Delaware business in 2010 for $1.7bn.

"These appliances have served you well, but with advances in technology it is a perfect time to upgrade," the company said in a short statement on a page which has since been removed.

Netezza - System - Analytics - Data - Volumes

It all started so well: Netezza, established in 1999, designed a massively parallel system specifically to run complex analytics on very large data volumes. In its heyday, it was competing against the likes of Teradata, Oracle and HP. It had a great Wall Street debut. And yes, IBM paid megabucks for it.

"It was solving a real problem, the performance issue, and they were faster than the competition," Mathias Golombek, CTO at German database developer Exasol, told El Reg.

Netezza - Products - Reputation - Performance - Thanks

Netezza's products got their reputation for performance thanks to the use of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) in a patented hardware acceleration process - long before these types of custom chips found mainstream popularity. FPGAs are usually programmed to do just one thing, but do it well. These FPGAs were fine-tuned to execute analytic queries.

After Netezza got acquired, it traded custom servers for standard IBM blades, making the overall product cheaper, but FPGAs remained a part of the design.

Lifetime - Netezza - Business - Appliance - Models

During its lifetime, the Netezza business produced three appliance models: Skimmer (version N100-1), TwinFin (N1001 versions) and Striper (N2001 versions). But then the cloud happened.

"Netezza was a hardware-accelerated appliance, utilizing an integrated SPU with blade, drive and FPGA all in one place. While a...
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