Real v. Imitation In-memory Database Systems

It is our goal that after reading this white paper you will know how to tell the difference between real vs. imitation in-memory database systems, and why it matters.

In-memory database systems (IMDSs) have changed the software landscape, enabling “smarter” real-time applications and sparking mergers and acquisitions involving the largest technology companies. But IMDSs’ popularity has sparked a flurry of products falsely claiming to be in-memory database systems. Understanding the distinction is critical to determining the performance, cost and ultimately the success or failure of a solution. For instance, real in-memory database systems have specific optimization strategies at the base of the system code. This white paper examines specific products, seeking to answer the question, “is it really an in-memory database system?”  We want all professional developers to know the difference between real vs. imitation in-memory database systems.

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Introduction
Declining RAM cost, emergence of data-hungry real-time systems, and other factors have driven the growth of in-memory database systems (IMDSs).  This technology offers the features of traditional (file system-based) database management systems (DBMSs), including transactions, multi-user concurrency control, and high level data definition and querying languages.  There is, however, a key difference: in-memory databases store records in main memory, which eliminates disk storage and the related overhead. This enables IMDSs to offer faster performance, as well as a more streamlined design and smaller code size.

In-memory databases have changed the software landscape in several ways. Whole categories of applications that previously could not benefit from database systems are now able to do so. IMDSs’ growing popularity has sparked mergers and acquisitions involving the largest technology companies. One troubling trend, which should matter to anyone considering the technology, is products falsely claiming to be in-memory database systems. This report examines a handful of these imitators and explains why they fail to deliver on IMDSs’ promise. The goal is to better educate potential users.

Please use the following link to trigger a download of the complete white paper, Will the Real IMDS Please Stand Up?

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