All about in-memory computing
Is the trend paving the way for a shift in mindset about what business intelligence platforms should be able to do?
Championed by SAP with its HANA platform, in-memory computing is now picking up steam across the Middle East thanks to a number of other vendors getting on board with the technology. But what has Middle East adoption been like when it comes to this trend, and is it paving the way for a shift in mindset about what business intelligence platforms should be able to do?
Gartner defines in-memory computing (IMC for short) as an architectural principle – not as a technology – by which applications can assume that all the data they need for processing is readily available in the main memory of their computing environment. In a few words, IMC applications use main memory as the primary location for data.
According to Massimo Pezzini, vice president and research fellow at Gartner, this essentially provides three main benefits for organisations. Firstly, it allows for faster access to data – indeed, it could be up to 1,000-times faster access, depending on the application. Secondly, IMC allows for greater application scalability, wherein hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of active users can be supported. And finally, it provides real-time business insight, as in businesses can view what is happening as it happens, rather than seeing results after the fact.
“The first and last benefits apply particularly well to analytical applications. The second one is typically relevant for Web=scale transaction processing applications such as travel reservation systems, internet/mobile banking, online gaming, cloud services and the likes. This is important to know: IMC is not only about analytics, but also transaction processing,” Pezzini explains.
This point is echoed by Hannes Liebe, COO at SAP MENA, the software vendor that has arguably done most to champion in-memory computing with the release of its own IMC platform, SAP HANA. He adds, however, that IT operations can also be greatly simplified with the adoption of IMC.
“The complexity of IT landscapes is increasing, and consequently change is inhibited when having a database and storage technology originating from the ‘Nineties, which whilst it of course became more performant, still is by design built around the technological assumptions of those days. In-memory capabilities in combination with additional innovations on hardware and in the way data is stored and compressed allows SAP Hana to be shaking therefore both: the database and business intelligence market but also it is recognized now as a major simplifier of IT landscapes overall,” he says.
“Additionally, the simplification advantages of SAP HANA allow now to cover within one platform most requirements that would be normally served by many layers in other application platforms, including transactional databases, reporting databases, integration layers, all types of search, predictive and social data. All of this is now served up working out the box, with a single installation.”
SAP does not have the in-memory computing market to itself. It may perhaps peddle the best-known applications using in-memory technology, but a host of other vendors have also brought to market strong solutions that regional enterprises are taking note of.
“The other software megavendors (IBM, Microsoft and Oracle), cloud powerhouses (Amazon WS, Google, Workday and others), midsize middleware companies (Pivotal, Red Hat, Software AG, Tibco) and a plethora of pure-play vendors provide IMC technologies,” explains Pezzini.