Amazon Targets Oracle, HP With New Redshift Data Warehouse

Originally unveiled by AWS at its re:Invent conference in November, Amazon Redshift is a cloud-based data warehousing solution that can scale to a petabyte of data or more, making it ideal for running the kinds of data-intensive applications associated with the quickly growing big data trend.

According to AWS, Redshift can be used to analyze "virtually any size data set," but it can do so using the SQL-based business intelligence tools, such as those from SAP and Informatica, which many organizations already have in place. What's more, AWS said Redshift's reliance on columnar data storage and advanced compression techniques allows it to achieve "significantly higher" performance rates than traditional data warehouses.

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AWS is also touting Redshift as a lower-cost solution compared to on-premise data warehouses. Pricing begins at $0.85 per hour for a 2-terabyte data warehouse, and it can scale up to a terabyte. Reserved instance pricing is $0.228 per hour or under $1,000 per terabyte per year, which AWS said is less than one-tenth the price of competing data warehouses.

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"When we set out to build Amazon Redshift, we wanted to leverage the massive scale of AWS to deliver ten times the performance at one-tenth the cost of on-premise data warehouses in use today," said Raju Gulabani, AWS' vice president of database service, in a statement.

When AWS first announced Redshift in November, large customers including Netflix and NASA had already signed on to start testing the product. But, Redshift is also being targeted at smaller and mid-sized companies, which may not be able to pay the higher price points associated with some on-premise and private cloud-based data warehousing solutions.

"With order of magnitude improvements in price/performance, Amazon Redshift makes big data analytics accessible to more people, allowing large organizations to analyze more of their data and smaller ones to afford fast, scalable data warehousing technology," Gulabani said in the statement.

Kevin Chu, director of systems and infrastructure at Digitaria, a San Diego, Calif.-based AWS partner, said he views Redshift as a solid AWS offering, namely because it's easy to deploy and doesn't require his customer base to completely overhaul their existing BI environments.

"I had a chance to meet with the AWS Database Services team during re:Invent when Redshift was first announced and in my opinion it is a great offering. As with most AWS services, it essentially removes the upfront CapEx of building a data warehousing environment and moves it to the cloud, freeing up IT resources," Chu told CRN in an emailed statement. "Users are able to continue using the business intelligence tools they have licensed and are comfortable with. We are currently identifying some opportunities that would benefit from Redshift."

Amazon Redshift will go head-to-head with private cloud-based data warehousing solutions from companies including Oracle, IBM and HP. Without mentioning names, Amazon in November made jabs at vendors like these, arguing that they may tout their private cloud solutions as being secure and manageable, but they miss the boat when it comes to scale, agility and cost.

Amazon said Redshift is now generally available in the U.S. East Coast from its North Virginia-based data center and will be rolled out to other centers in the coming months.