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Sink or Swim?

As you dive into the depths of RFID, be sure to avoid drowning in data.
By Andy Winans
To put it another way, all the glorious promises of RFID will be rendered impotent once they enter the real-world environment of the data center.

So, what's the solution? The answer lies in implementing a data-management system that can analyze huge amounts of information quickly, instead of allowing it to overwhelm data infrastructures. Companies like Ahold USA, Amazon.com, and the Canadian drugstore giant Shoppers Drug Mart, have begun to leverage data warehouse systems offering real-time data analysis.

One technology receiving much attention in recent months is a data warehouse appliance combining a database, storage capacity and a server in a single piece of hardware. Such appliances are being used to gain real-time insights into data and fundamentally change the way organizations make decisions and drive their business processes. This means a dramatic increase in productivity across the organization. Time isn't spent running queries and maintaining the database; it's utilized leveraging business intelligence (BI) to make smarter decisions, ask better questions and, ultimately, make more money.

In our experience, there’s a paradigm shift away from traditional data warehousing systems such as those from IBM, Oracle and Teradata, as organizations seek to cut query times down from literally days to minutes. Some data warehouse appliances can deliver significantly increased performance for large, complex and constantly evolving BI efforts—at half the cost of existing, general-purpose enterprise data warehouse systems.

My company, for example—Netezza—offers one system that delivers 10 to 50 times the usual performance, shattering traditional performance benchmarks by removing many of the technical roadblocks paralyzing today's patchwork of general-purpose technology. A single Netezza Performance Server system, for instance, can query 100 terabytes of data in real time; that’s the equivalent of over 27,000 DVD movies, or more than 18.5 million books. So, you can imagine the positive impact similar appliances could have across an organization drowning in RFID data.

These appliances are plug-and-play solutions that work hand in hand with BI applications and data tools. This is a crucial consideration in the modern, global market where rapid return on business investments, including RFID deployments, determines whether a company will sink or swim.

Andy Winans is vice president of retail and CPG solutions at Netezza, a Framingham, Mass., provider of data warehouse appliances.

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