In-Memory Technology: Building a Real-Time Business

01 Mar 12

The massive explosion in data is creating manageability issues for companies around the world. According to one estimate, data stored for critical business applications at a typical organisation doubles every 18 months. 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. The pressure is intensified by the burgeoning of mergers and acquisitions, and by a surge in the generation of both structured and unstructured data. The resulting challenges are incredibly costly, with multiple data warehouses and transaction systems creating a high total cost of ownership.
But simply increasing storage is not the answer. In addition to data volume and storage, 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, quicken their response time to customer requests and complaints and arm their sales force with the information required to close the deal.
Businesses need direct insight into transactional information as things happen, 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 can process.
In-Memory Technology to the Rescue
The solution is the result of a dynamic change in the way data is stored, retrieved and processed. Recent improvements in hardware economics and technology innovations in software have made it possible for massive amounts of data to be sifted, correlated and updated in seconds based on in-memory technology. Technology advances in main memory, multi-core processing and data management have combined to deliver dramatic increases in performance. In-memory technology is now at a point where common adoption is possible.
With in-memory technology, operational data is held in a single database that can handle all day-to-day transactions and updates, as well as analytical requests, in real time. In-memory computing technology allows the processing of massive quantities of transactional data in the main memory of the server to provide immediate results. The time it takes to update the database is also significantly reduced, and the system can handle more queries at one time.
With this vast improvement in process speed, query quality and business insight, in-memory database management systems promise performance 10 to 20 times faster than traditional disk-based models.
How Do Businesses Benefit?
In-memory technology promises impressive benefits for companies in many areas, but most significantly in cost savings, greater and immediate visibility and enhanced efficiency across the enterprise that enables improved decision making.
Cost savings
Database management currently accounts for more than 25 percent of a company’s IT budget. Since in-memory databases use hardware systems that require far less power than traditional database management systems, they dramatically reduce hardware and maintenance costs.
In-memory databases also reduce the burden on a company’s overall IT landscape, freeing up resources devoted to responding to requests for reports. And since in-memory technology is based on proven, mature components, the implementations are non-disruptive, allowing companies to return to operations quickly and easily.
Increased simplicity and efficiency
The conversion to in-memory technology allows an entire technological layer to be removed from a company’s IT architecture, reducing complexity and infrastructure that traditional systems require. This allows data to be retrieved nearly instantaneously, making all areas across the business more efficient.
In-memory computing allows any employee to easily carve out subsets of business intelligence for their needs. Work groups can operate autonomously without affecting the central data warehouse workload. And perhaps most importantly, businesses no longer have to rely on IT support resources to gain relevant insight into their data.
These performance gains also allow workers on the road to retrieve insightful queries through their mobile devices, which is increasingly important as more businesses incorporate mobile technologies into their operations.
Improved visibility to make better business decisions
In-memory technology makes it easier for organisations to gain complete oversight into the full range of their data rather than a mere subset of that data which has been extracted and put in a data warehouse. Businesses can shift from post-event analysis to real-time decision making – and move their business model from response-based to predictive and planning.
When combined with easy-to-use analytic technology at the front end, anyone in the organisation can build their own queries and dashboards with very little expertise.
Changing the Way Business Works
According to one estimate, approximately 30 percent of enterprises will have one or more critical applications running on an in-memory database over the next five years, and by 2014,
30 percent of analytic applications will use in-memory functions to add scale and computational speed.*
In-memory technology offers the best available alternative to slow, costly disk-based data management systems. For those who move first to in-memory technology, the resulting boost in business insight, increased efficiency and reduced IT costs will give a true competitive advantage.  

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