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www.expresscomputeronline.com WEEKLY INSIGHT FOR TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS
24 May 2010  
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Home - Trend - Article

Next-generation database technologies

There is a need for a third-generation of database technologies, as we are forced to embrace a world of large-memory models, clustered servers, and highly compressed column-wise storage. By Nivedan Prakash

Although database management systems (DBMS) technology has matured, there remains potential for innovation in integrating structured and unstructured data, virtualizing access to data, and simplifying data management through greater automation and intelligence.

DBMS technology and middleware will also evolve to support the information fabric by virtualizing access to heterogeneous data. These trends will offer an evolutionary path to a future world of information management in which all forms of information will be easier to access, integrate, and control, and this will all come at a lower cost, due to increased automation.

Many organizations will move to upgrade or expand existing legacy networks and infrastructure; hence the database market will see lots of activity and increased competition in an already mature space.

According to IDC reports, most data warehouses will be stored in a columnar fashion and not in rows, reporting and data collection problems will be solved with databases that have no formal schema at all, horizontal scalability through clustering will be achieved by large-scale database servers; and most OLTP databases will either reside entirely in memory or be augmented by an in-memory database.

These new systems will encourage companies to forget disk-based partitioning schemes, buffer management, indexing strategies and embrace a world of large-memory models, many processors with many cores, clustered servers and highly compressed column wise storage.

Springboard Research reports suggest that databases are critical for data intensive environments like banking, financial services and insurance telecom, retail and PSU. Sanchit Vir Gogia, Associate Research Manager - Software, Springboard Research said that India as a market for DBMS is at an inflection point. While large enterprises are clearly dedicating a portion of their IT budget to better manage data, SMBs are also waking up to these benefits. Interestingly, investment in DBMS by SMBs is largely driven through the pent-up demand for enterprise applications like ERP, CRM, etc.

“We are foreseeing a rapid growth in data volumes as organizations try to get more granular control over what is happening within. The number of events that organizations will track in the near future in real time will definitely rise. Hence, the modernization of application infrastructure and growing data warehousing needs are the key driving factors for the growth of the database market,” opined Sundar Ram, VP - Technology Sales Consulting, Oracle Asia Pacific.

Emerging database technologies

"Main memory databases are faster than disk-optimized databases, as the internal optimization algorithms are simpler and execute fewer CPU instructions. Accessing data in memory provides faster and more predictable performance than disk. In applications, where response time is critical, such as telecommunications network equipment that operates
emergency systems, main memory
databases are often used"

- Sanjay Mehta
CEO of MAIA Intelligence

Of late, the industry has seen the emergence of business intelligence and data warehousing as a major factor influencing business decisions. Businesses have gone past the ‘applications’ phase to a phase where useful, accurate and timely information from application data is being used to make better business decisions.

Databases have also begun to align with this shift in customers’ needs. They continue to be the heart of transaction processing; but there is a definite shift in focus towards providing databases that support superior performance as far as reporting, analytics and data mining are concerned. The trend towards the use of databases for mining useful, accurate information has led to the creation of a new category of databases.

“Sybase IQ uses a patented columnar architecture that provides superior performance in querying and reporting. It works with any transactional database at the back end and with any reporting software on the front,” said Sudesh Prabhu, Director - Presales and Services, Sybase India.

Moreover, the adoption of specialty servers is growing and customers are moving away from increasingly constrained row-based databases for analytics and data warehousing. There is greater demand for advanced analytics to uncover business opportunities and risk, thereby driving demand for forecasting, predictive modeling and data mining. The market is also seeing the integration of all data types into BI, wherein traditional plus streaming data, non-relational/ unstructured data, (XML data, geospatial data and media) is taking place.

Some of the other latest databases that are being deployed by Indian organizations are Oracle 11g (includes high availability solution), SQL Server 2008 (also includes high availability solution), and DB2/UDB V9.0.

Meanwhile, many of the latest database technologies not only help in solving exotic data warehouse or other intensive number-crunching problems but also real-world data management problems.

Sophisticated analytics to outsmart the competition is emerging as a must-have business practice in many industries. Vast amounts of current and historical data must be run against intricate analytical models to accurately predict future outcomes.

However, these analytics systems are where the data explosion has had the most impact. Implementing more efficient analytics software, therefore, can solve not only the data explosion and its byproduct (rampant energy use) but also dramatically increase the speed, scalability, and flexibility of business intelligence.

Points to remember

When looking at database platforms, and making choices around selecting a database, it is vital to look at the functional requirements within the database that the customer requires and match that to what the database delivers right from the start without additional customization by a professional services team.

If the choice of a database also enforces a concomitant requirement for specialized skills in consulting around the technology, the customer is then forced into a situation where the amount of engineering for the application will only increase.

Bhaskaran Gurumoorthy, Senior Manager at CSC pointed out that it is important to understand the functional requirement and get acquainted with the environment and business criticality. Various factors should be considered before making a final decision on the databases including response time, the ability to handle huge data stores and data security.

He added that implementing or choosing a database without understanding the functional requirement would result in the escalation of both the initial cost of acquisition as well as make it more difficult to modify the architecture and environment at a later date. It would also result in inefficiencies in terms of responsiveness of the system/database and customer losing the faith of the service provider.

However, there are possibilities that the situation might worsen, as data volumes are increasing at an exponential rate. Today, even small and medium business are transacting at a higher rate than expected and it’s not uncommon to find enterprise users asking for over 100 business transactions to be completed every second. At this rate, we are seeing typical operational and analytical databases crossing the terabyte mark as a standard, and can even think of 10 TB databases as the norm.

Unless database technology is able to demonstrate its ease in managing and manipulating data on these scales, and show its ability to perform with a high rate of growth, the customer will have no choice but to keep investing in more computing capacity for the same application.

Other significant aspects

Here, it will be right to say that most OLTP databases will either be augmented by an in-memory database or reside entirely in memory; and most large-scale database servers will achieve horizontal scalability through clustering.

An in-memory database stores records in the system’s main memory, resulting in performance that is an order of magnitude faster than that of traditional, file system-based database management systems. Such a database’s streamlined design can also greatly reduce code and CPU footprint.

The technological advancement now allows even terabytes of data to be stored and managed in memory, to serve as a front end cache for an even larger backend database, which is stored on a hard drive (or several hard drives as the case may be).

Most OLTP databases will either be augmented by an in-memory database or reside entirely in memory; and most large-scale database servers will achieve horizontal scalability through clustering.

Sanjay Mehta, CEO of MAIA Intelligence, added, “In recent years, main memory databases have attracted the interest of larger database vendors. Main memory databases are faster than disk-optimized databases, as the internal optimization algorithms are simpler and execute fewer CPU instructions. Accessing data in memory provides faster and more predictable performance than disk. In applications, where response time is critical, such as telecommunications network equipment that operates emergency systems, main memory databases are often used.”

In order to ensure a smooth transition to the next generation of DBMS, vendors should consider problems their products solve today that might be more effectively addressed by these third-generation technologies. They also need to enhance or evolve their DBMS products to incorporate the technology or functionality in order to address the demands associated with those database workloads that they have targeted.

Besides, vendors should also determine whether there are other workloads, and therefore other opportunities, that they do not address today, but that they could address if they develop or acquire third-generation DBMS technology.

Moreover, to satisfy the needs of users outside of business applications, database technologies must be expanded to offer services in two other dimensions, namely object management and knowledge management. Object management entails efficiently storing and manipulating non-traditional data types such as bitmaps, icons, text, and polygons. Object management problems abound in CAD and many other engineering applications.

nivedan.prakash@expressindia.com

 


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