Netezza: Believe the Hype?By Baselinemag | Posted 2005-07-08 Print
Netezza has a limited track record, but customers say the startup has backed up its sounds-way-too-good-to-be-true claims.
A system up to 50 times faster than the competition, at half the costthat's the sounds-way-too-good-to-be-true marketing spiel of Netezza, a data warehouse startup now in its fifth year. Can it back up its swagger?
Netezza made a believer out of Ahold USA, which operates 1,000 retail grocery stores. Al Clevenger, director of data management, needed a faster data warehouse for analyzing customer purchases than the company's existing system, which was running the Oracle 8i database on four IBM servers. Some reports took 18 hours; one required 72, broken into nine eight-hour pieces.
Clevenger says Netezza's small size was a concern at first. But his team grew more comfortable after talking to reference accounts, including Shoppers Drug Mart, a Canadian drugstore chain.
The clincher: Ahold ran the 72-hour query on Netezza's system, which did it in one four-hour pass. "We were like, 'Where do we sign?'" Clevenger says. "The performance was just awesome." On top of that, the system was two-thirds the cost of the Oracle-based data warehouse, including ongoing support and maintenance.
Others also gush about Netezza's speed. "It's borderline mind-boggling how fast this thing is," says Mike Coakley, vice president of marketing technology at Epsilon, a database marketing firm. He says Netezza's system takes 45 minutes to perform a series of queries on 250 million records that a 16-processor Oracle system would need more than six hours to complete.
But a fast finish doesn't win over everyone. Netezza's system "seemed like a 'Teradata Light' solution ... We were concerned about scalability," says Terri Kowalchuk, director of business intelligence at T-Mobile USA, which picked Teradata instead. Teradata certainly has put in more miles: It counts 750 customers worldwide, compared with Netezza's 29.
Netezza, though, listens to customers and has constantly improved its software, says Gary Feierstein, vice president of information technology at Premier, a health-care buying consortium. For example, based on customer feedback, Netezza added a feature to segment users by group, so one complex query won't slow down the whole system.
But Feierstein hasn't totally flipped to NetezzaPremier runs IBM's Red Brick Warehouse software for several of its data-analysis applications. As he explains: "We didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket."
Revenue, 2004 (est.): $36M
Sales growth: 100% from 2003 to '04
Expected profitability: Q3 2005
Total funding: $68M in four rounds
Investors: Matrix Partners, Charles River Ventures, Battery Ventures, Orange Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital Partners
Business Objects, Cognos, Informatica, MicroStrategy
Retail: Ahold USA, Amazon.com, Shoppers Drug Mart, The TJX Cos.
Telecommunications: Orange, Nextel Communications, Telus Mobility
Internet: CNET Networks, Google
Marketing services: Acxiom, Epsilon
Framingham, Mass. (headquarters); McLean, Va.; Bracknell, England; Sydney, Australia
2000 Netezza founded
2002 Ships first product in September
2003 Raises $15M third round
2004 Opens U.K. office
2005 Raises $15M fourth round
Sources: Company Reports; Baseline research
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