Thursday, August 2, 2012

Netezza External Tables

You can use Netezza's external table to view data from an external file and use it like a database table. When you create an external table, the actual data still sits in that physical external file, but you can query it from Netezza like you can query a normal database table.

You can also use external tables to export data out of a Netezza table into a file.

From Netezza's Data Loading Manual  - An external table allows Netezza to treat an external file as a database table. An external table has a definition (a table schema), but the actual data exists outside of the Netezza appliance database. External tables can be used to access files which are stored on the Netezza host server or, in the case of a remote external table, Netezza can treat a file on a client system as an external table (see REMOTESOURCE option).

Below are 2 examples to show you how to do both data export and "import".

I am using Aginity Workbench for Netezza on my windows machine (which comes with a netezza odbc driver), and I have a text file stored in my local drive C:\temp\testfile.txt which has the following column header and 3 rows:

1,'John Lee',100000
2,'Marty Short', 120000
3,'Jane Mars', 150000

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE ext_tbl_employees(
employee_id integer, 
employee_name character varying(100), 
salary decimal (10,2))
remotesource 'odbc'
delimiter ','
skiprows 1);

Then in your Aginity workbench object browser, expand the folder External Tables, and you will your new external table listed there.

You can then query the table just like a normal database table:

select *
from ext_tbl_employees

You can also create a transient external table, in which it only exists for the duration of your query, which means the external table definition does not persist in the system catalog.

--transient external table
FROM EXTERNAL 'c:\temp\testfile.txt' 
employee_id integer, 
employee_name character varying(100), 
salary decimal (10,2))
remotesource 'odbc'
delimiter ','
skiprows 1);

Transient external table is also a very useful way to export data from a netezza database out to a text file. You can export not just an entire table, but the output of any sql statement. The beauty of it is you don't have to specify the schema definition of the data, which can save you a lot of typing:

create table mytesttable (
studentid integer,
studentname character varying(100)

insert into mytesttable 
select 1, 'Jane Doe'
select 2, 'John Smith';

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE 'c:\Temp\ExportDataTest.csv' USING (remotesource 'ODBC' DELIM ',') AS
from mytesttable;

drop table mytesttable;

Note: if the file already exists, any existing data will be deleted by Netezza before it inserts data.

If there's comma in your data, and you want to export to csv, use escapeChar option:

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE 'c:\Temp\OfferAttributesNightlyFeed.csv' USING (remotesource 'ODBC' DELIM ',' ESCAPECHAR '\') AS


  1. Thanks for the efforts on gathering useful content and sharing here. You can find more question and answers on Netezza database in the following forum.

    Netezza database question and answers

  2. thank you for the command.. it works perfect but when i export the results into text file the results are not formatted correctly.. there is no terminator for rows... multiple rows are displaying in the single row.. is there any row terminator

  3. Just for all those that didn't know it, Netezza will typically output with unix line terminators and not windows version. This means, when you open it in word pad or anything, it will show up as one huge line, however, save as a .csv and excel will see the line wraps. My recommendation would be to use powershell which is very quick once you export it to change them to a full CR-LF.

  4. how can we append timestamp with filename or add any parameter to filename