IBM resurrects Netezza data warehousing kit in the cloud, which will delight clients midway through migrating

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IBM has brought Netezza back from the dead in a move likely to sow further confusion among customers of Big Blue's enterprise data products.

On a webpage sporting the headline "The newest Netezza: A model of simplicity," IBM said it would support a simple lift-and-shift for businesses still running Netezza hardware to something called a Netezza Performance Server built on IBM Cloud Pak for Data. It is available on IBM Cloud or Amazon Web Services.

"The Netezza that you know and love is back with the simplicity and ease of development and deployment that truly sets it apart," enthused Hemant Suri, program director for IBM Data & AI, in an accompanying blog post.

"We have made Netezza on the Cloud a completely seamless upgrade for existing Netezza deployments. It's a simple lift and shift to the cloud. And, we're using cloud-native building blocks to construct a scalable, elastic and highly performant cloud data warehouse," he said. This would be news to many Netezza customers.

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IBM retired the family of data warehousing software and analytics appliances last year, leaving customers facing either migrating to IBM Integrated Analytics System (ISA) or IBM's Db2 Warehouse on Cloud (Db2WoC). Alternatively, they could look at data warehousing beyond IBM's stable of products.

One reseller told The Register: "Essentially they cut off support for the old-style appliance with little notice for clients. There was a worldwide rush to buy available stock, then clients were told to 'upgrade' with a Db2-based solution. This [was] slow and expensive and needed a rework of all of the jobs.

"Eventually they've succumbed to demand and released a new option based upon a straightforward migration using the old Netezza operating system. Clients are very unhappy. It has been handled so badly. They [feel that they've] been left to either carry on unsupported, look elsewhere or migrate.

They added: "This may reinvigorate the client-base, but IBM lost a lot of goodwill when they arbitrarily dropped support for the systems in the first place."

Philip Howard, research director at analyst haus Bloor Research, said customers' views of Big Blue's decision to resurrect Netezza would depend on how far down the migration path they had gone.

"Some of them will be annoyed if they have gone a long way down the [migration] path. But, having said that, those who haven't gone far will be quite a bit quite happy, because it gives them an easy option," Howard said.

As it retired Netezza, IBM's plan was to move customers onto IBM Integrated Analytics System, positioned as "the next generation Netezza-based appliance". But unlike Netezza, which was powered by FPGA hardware, the Integrated Analytics System relies on solid-state storage and memory for its performance boost.

According to Howard, the latest news only adds to the confusion of IBM's enterprise data strategy.

"The whole 'call everything Watson' thing and the product name changes and so on: I think it has been a complete mess," he said. However, the arrival of Arvind Krishna as CEO in January 2020 would lead to great clarity. "We're hopeful that he is knocking a few heads together and making things a big more sensible," he said.

A data warehousing system tuned to take advantage of FPGA hardware, Netezza was acquired by IBM for $1.7bn in 2010. Although the cloud-based future for Netezza will not make use of the same hardware, IBM has alternatives for FPGA fans.

Howard said: "It is interesting that IBM introduced support for FPGAs in IBM Private Cloud last year, on the basis that there were actually faster than GPUs. But maybe Netezza was also on their minds."

To further muddy the waters, IBM also offers IBM Db2 Warehouse on Cloud (Db2WoC) as a SaaS alternative.

The Register has contacted IBM to gain clarity on its plans for Netezza and other enterprise data and analytics products. We will update when it responds. ®

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