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BLOG: In-memory technology: Building a real-time business

Kowshik Sriman | Sept. 22, 2011
In-memory computing technology allows the processing of massive quantities of transactional data to provide immediate results.

In its latest annual analysis of the fastest-growing firms in Singapore, credit and business-information bureau DP Information Group found that 217 companies here managed to turn in net profit and achieve at least 10 percent turnover growth each year over the last three years. More Singapore companies are emerging with significant competitive strengths of their own and are now expanding into international markets. The massive explosion in data is creating manageability issues for companies around the world due to factors such as increased mergers and acquisitions, and a surge in both structured and unstructured data.

According to one estimate, data at a typical organisation doubles every 18 months for critical business applications. And for some specialised applications, such as telecommunications call data records, data can quadruple in that same period.

At the same time, tighter regulations involving the tracking of financial transactions and customer data put the responsibility on businesses to maintain this data and keep it available for years.

These data-volume challenges are incredibly costly, as companies must purchase and maintain hardware to handle the load. These multiple data warehouses and transaction systems add up to a high total cost of ownership and require constant oversight.

In addition to data volume and storage, business itself is happening at an incredible rate. Businesses increasingly need to react faster to events impacting their operations. They must be able to uncover trends and patterns to improve planning and forecasting, increase their response time to customer requests and complaints, and arm their salesforce with the information required to close the deal, as the deal is happening.

To achieve these goals, businesses must have direct insight into transactional information as business events occur, without waiting to extract and load that data from data warehouses. However, the volume of operational data available for business insight often exceeds the amount of data that traditional disk-based systems and data warehouses can process within reasonable response times. Companies today need to be able to answer questions on the fly based on real-time data.

In-memory technology to the rescue

In-memory computing technology allows the processing of massive quantities of transactional data in the main memory of the server to provide immediate results from analysis of these transactions. Since in-memory technology allows data to be accessed directly from memory, query results come back much more quickly than they would from a traditional disk-based warehouse. The time it takes to update the database is also significantly reduced, and the system can handle more queries at one time.

The elements of in-memory computing are not new, but they are now at a point where common adoption is possible. Recent improvements in hardware economics and technology innovations in software have now made it possible for massive amounts of data to be sifted, correlated and updated in seconds based on in-memory technology.


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