Netezza Performance Server System

REVIEWER: Gary Feierstein, vice president of information technology, Premier, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Premier, Inc. is a strategic healthcare alliance owned by 200 of the nation's leading hospital and healthcare systems. These systems operate or are affiliated with 1,500 hospital facilities and hundreds of other healthcare sites. Premier provides informatics services and solutions to its alliance members and other subscribing hospitals, helping these organizations leverage data to make more informed, intelligent business decisions.

PLATFORMS: Our informatics group is using the Netezza Performance Server (NPS) 8150 for production and an NPS 8050 for development. Our supply chain group is using an NPS 8050 for production and a separate NPS 8050 for development.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were hampered by constant, expensive upgrades to expand our storage, server, processing and data warehousing capacity to accommodate our growth. Running volumes of complex analytics queries on our IBM RedBrick database was delivering results much too late to be beneficial. We selected the NPS system to overcome this problem and meet future demands. The NPS system provides exceptional response times when directly accessing the warehouse via our custom MicroStrategy Web-based application to perform complex, ad hoc queries. In addition, by loading staging data directly into Netezza and using SQL scripts to perform much of our ETL processing directly against the database as a complement to our ETL engine, we were able to dramatically reduce the time required to refresh our data warehouse for our customers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: By architecturally integrating database, server and storage within a single appliance, the NPS system handles multiterabyte data loads and delivers real-time results that help us identify the most optimal courses of action for hospitals and patients. The NPS system powers informatics queries using applications from SAS, Hyperion's Brio and MicroStrategy, which allow users to access and analyze information. Gleaning valuable information from an analysis of a 2 billion-row database containing three years of patient-level data formerly took hours; with the NPS system, the process takes just minutes.

STRENGTHS: The NPS system performs complex analysis significantly faster and for a much lower cost than traditional systems. Because we don't need to expend any effort on the traditional tuning and operational tasks associated with large data warehouses, we have been able to continue developing and deploying new applications and services for our customers, which has provided us great time-to-market advantages. Prior to the deployment of Netezza, we spent a substantial amount of time manually partitioning data and breaking up our query requests into smaller, more manageable logical units of work to execute requests in a reasonable amount of time. With Netezza, we can now efficiently run queries against our entire data warehouse, regardless of query complexity.

WEAKNESSES: Because we were one of Netezza's early adopters, we experienced growing pains, especially around the area of third-party vendor support. Yet, Netezza never let us down.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We required a system that could deliver a significant increase in speed and depth for complex queries within our Perspective data warehouse, the largest and most complete repository of clinical and resource utilization data for the nation's hospitals and healthcare systems. The price/performance advantage clearly made the NPS system a perfect fit for Premier's strategic technology direction.

DELIVERABLES: Our pharmaceutical research services (PRS) team was one of the first divisions within Premier Healthcare Informatics to benefit from the enhanced performance querying capabilities of the NPS system. The PRS team was able to successfully perform their complex queries and complete detailed research in record-breaking time.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Netezza support has been exceptional. They have always responded quickly and professionally to any issues that we have encountered, and have gone out of their way to ensure that our expectations for performance, reliability and functionality are always exceeded.

DOCUMENTATION: Netezza provided all of the necessary documentation required for the successful installation and operation of the NPS system.

Netezza Performance Server System
Netezza Corporation
200 Crossing Boulevard
5th Floor
Framingham, MA 01702

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