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In-Memory Technology: The Options Abound

The software giants might have the inside track, but there's no shortage of innovative, alternative providers.

Download the entire
March 3 issue of InformationWeek
In-Memory Databases, distributed in an all-digital format.

IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP aren't the only vendors battling to bring you in-memory capabilities. Both established and startup data warehouse and analytic database management system vendors are in this fight.

Well-established data warehousing vendor Teradata last year introduced an "Intelligent Memory" feature to its DBMS that automatically moves the most queried data into RAM and back out to solid state disks, flash, fast disks, or slow disks, in that order, depending on the frequency and complexity of queries.

The burgeoning NoSQL and NewSQL market is rife with in-memory technology vendors. (NoSQL covers, broadly, a class of nonrelational and horizontally scalable databases, while NewSQL refers to emerging databases that aim to offer NoSQL scalability but with familiar SQL query capabilities.

[Who are the biggest vendors offering in-memory, and why should you want it? Read In-Memory Databases: Do You Need The Speed?]

Aerospike (formerly Citrusleaf), for example, is an in-memory, NoSQL DBMS used by gaming and advertising-driven sites that must display relevant ads within milliseconds. VoltDB is a scalable, in-memory DBMS in the (SQL-compliant) NewSQL camp. Its customers are concentrated in telecom, financial services, and utilities, all industries that have long demanded fast processing and decision support. VoltDB competes with incumbents Oracle TimesTen and IBM solidDB, which were developed in 1996 and 1992, respectively -- long before the era of big data-oriented, massively parallel processing.

MemSQL has made a name for itself as a highly scalable, in-memory transactional DBMS used by customers such as Comcast and Zynga. The DBMS plays in high-speed telco, gaming, and ad-delivery scenarios, but a recent release added flash- and disk-based storage options to better address historical analysis. Cassandra supporter DataStax is going the other way, recently adding an option to move in-demand database tables into RAM. Pivotal GemFire, Kognitio, and others deserve mention in the context of in-memory technology, but it's getting to be a long list.

To read more on this topic,
download the March 3 issue of InformationWeek, In-Memory Databases.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
3/3/2014 | 9:59:34 AM
Big Data vs. Mainstream database market
The offerings and announcements are important in the context of the big data market, but Aerospike, DataStax, MemSQL, and VoltDB have tens or, at most, hundreds of customers. The real battle for in-memory adoption will be fought among IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, which have, collectively, more than 1 million database management system cusotmers.
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