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Start-up Netezza taps into biotech

The business intelligence upstart develops a specialized version of its hardware server targeted at the bioinformatics field.

Business intelligence start-up Netezza is sifting for gold in the huge piles of data that make up the human genome.

The Framingham, Mass.-based company announced Monday that it has developed a specialized version of its hardware server targeted at the bioinformatics field. In bioinformatics, pharmaceutical companies use high-end computer equipment to sift through large amounts of data to accelerate development of drugs and medical treatments.

Netezza sells what it calls a "data appliance" system that consists of a rack server and storage specially designed to handle quick look-ups of data. The system, called the Netezza Performance Server, comes with its own database that can store and analyze large amounts of information for data warehousing applications.

The company said it has signed up customers in the telecommunications field. Cellular providers are using the Netezza server to store six months or more of calling information--which could amount to several hundred gigabytes of data--to spot customer usage trends, according to Netezza CEO Jit Saxena.

Although Netezza's servers can cost millions of dollars, companies can perform queries on massive amounts of data, which they could not easily do with less specialized equipment, Saxena said. The device also accelerates up front development time and simplifies ongoing maintenance, he said.

Pricing for the system begins at $622,000. The company also announced a more powerful version of its data appliances, which can store up to 27 terabytes of data.