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In-memory technology speeds up data analytics

John Moore | June 27, 2013
Long the purview of financial firms looking for an edge as they make lightning-fast transactions, in-memory technology is starting to catch the attention of many firms that conduct real-time analysis.

The in-memory shift expands the possibilities for a database involved in real-time decision making, Lindquist says. Previously, getting a database to perform at the now-required level would call for a significant amount of tuning-configuring memory and carving out a data cache in RAM to improve performance.

A cache hit is quicker than going back to disk for data, but a cache typically represents a small portion of the data stored in a database. Lindquist notes that mySQL performance depends on having the right piece of data in memory at the right time.

Why not put all the crucial data there? "We decided it's all got to be in memory," Lindquist explains, "so you don't have to worry about the tremendous amounts of database tuning you typically would have to do." AdJuggler will run a Terracotta cluster, using the distributed version of the company's BigMemory data management software."

In-memory Delivers Better Fraud Detection to USPS
The United States Postal Service, meanwhile, has made a similar decision when it comes to such tasks as detecting fraud and improving mail routing. USPS uses Silicon Graphics International hardware and Oracle TimesTen in-memory database software. The organization uses many instances of TimesTen, rather than a single image, to increase the parallelism of the data loads.

Moving to in-memory technology eliminates significant disk management software overhead, storage fabric latency and the limitation of disk spindle speeds, according to the Postal Service.

"The main business benefits of in-memory databases are in their ability to provide very quick, near real-time, answers while looking across vast amounts of data," says Dan Houston Jr., manager of data management services at USPS, and Scot Atkins, product information specialist at USPS, in an email.

In-memory helps the Postal Service flag fraud and quickly determines if a mail piece has correct postage. The spokesmen cite in-memory databases as one of technology that makes it possible for the postal service to take on such tasks as dynamic routing, same-day delivery and predictive routing.

"In-memory databases are allowing us to do things in real-time that would have taken hours or days in the past," Houston and Atkins say.

Interest Moving Beyond Finance, Telco Industries
In-memory technology isn't particularly new. Roger Gaskell, chief technology officer at Kognitio, an in-memory analytics platform vendor, says the first system was built in the late 1980s for the London brokerage firm Savory Milln. The broker wanted to be able to calculate trading exposure risk at virtually any point in time, Gaskell notes.

Before the in-memory system, the exposure calculations were done overnight. In-memory "was the only way we could get at the data fast enough to allow us to bring enough CPU power to bear to meet the use case criteria," Gaskell says.

 

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