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IBM's Netezza Deal Swipes at Oracle

Stocks in this article: IBMORCLNZDELLHPQTDC

IBM/Netezza story updated with additional analyst comment.

ARMONK, N.Y. ( TheStreet) -- IBM (IBM) is increasing the pressure on arch-rival Oracle (ORCL) through its $1.7 billion Netezza (NZ) acquisition, which was announced early Monday.

Netezza makes a data warehousing appliance that competes directly with Oracle's popular Exadata device. Exadata helped boost Oracle's strong first-quarter results last week, and CEO Larry Ellison said Exadata could bring in more than $1.5 billion this fiscal year.

IBM

Ellison is no stranger to IBM-baiting, particularly in the aftermath of Oracle's Sun acquisition. But it seems that now Big Blue is doing some trash-talking of its own.

"I am happy to compete with Oracle and the Oracle/Sun mixture on the quality of our engineering," Arvind Krishna, a general manager within IBM's software group, told TheStreet Monday. "I am confident that, in any bake-off, we will win."

Jim Baum, the CEO of Netezza, added that his firm's win rates against Oracle are "very, very high" and said that Netezza has racked up over 350 customers. These include the New York Stock Exchange (NYX), Time Warner (TWX), Neiman Marcus and eHarmony.

Whether IBM has to up the ante for Netezza remains to be seen. Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W.Baird, believes that, given the strength of Netezza's technology, another bidder could easily enter the fray.

" NEC stands out as an interested buyer to us though we would mention Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL) and SAP (SAP)," he wrote in a note. "Though Oracle is unlikely, we would not rule them out and would guess they weren't pitched Netezza for competitive reasons."

IBM and Netezza are longstanding partners and IBM's BladeCenter hardware already features within Netezza's data warehousing appliance, which would complicate an Oracle bid.

Krishna also insisted that IBM's Netezza buy was not a reaction to Oracle's Exadata push, adding that the acquisition is part of a much broader technology effort. "Our stated strategy is to take business analytics mainstream to all employees in an enterprise," he said, adding that IBM has acquired more than 23 analytics companies in the last five years.

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