Netezza launches Skimmer data appliance, teases two more

Skimmer is less expensive than current model; future appliances to deliver real-time analytics

Netezza Corp. on Monday launched the follow-up to its TwinFin data warehousing appliance, introducing a smaller device that shares the surfing-themed name of its big brother.

Called the Skimmer, the new device is aimed at small to midsize businesses and departments of larger enterprises. It can store up to 10TB of data, said Phil Francisco, Netezza's vice president of marketing.

Coming in the form of a 7U rack-mountable chassis rather than a full rack, the Netezza Skimmer will be less expensive than the TwinFin's $20,000-per-terabyte list price, Francisco said, though he declined to specify by how much.

The TwinFin was released last August, positioned as a faster, cheaper successor to Netezza's 10000-series appliances.

Both the TwinFin and the Skimmer use Intel Corp. CPU blade servers and FPGA networking chips to accelerate data throughput. The main difference is that the TwinFin can store up to 1PB of data.

However, Netezza is planning an appliance with even greater capacity than the TwinFin, as well as another "memory-intensive" appliance that will be designed for users who want to perform real-time analytics.

One of those products is likely to be released later this year, said Francisco. He declined to give more details. However, judging by Netezza's recent trademark filings, the petabyte-plus model will be called the Cruiser, while the in-memory model will be called Pintail.

With more than 300 customers, Netezza has had success winning users, primarily from Teradata Corp., Oracle Corp. and IBM. Rivals say Netezza's products mimic the functionality of established vendors' offerings but cost less, and they say that business model will hurt the Marlborough, Mass.-based company in the long run.

"Data warehousing appliances are a 25-year-old solution, they are a 1.0 response to customers craving simplicity," says Scott Yara, president of data warehousing software vendor Greenplum Inc. "You can't get explosive growth from pure migrations. The real opportunity is helping companies do something new."

Francisco declined to respond to Yara's comments. But he promised that Netezza will soon be announcing improvements in the areas of MapReduce functionality and in-the-box advanced analytics.

Eric Lai covers Windows and Linux, desktop applications, databases and business intelligence for Computerworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericylai, send e-mail to or subscribe to Eric's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon