In-Memory Empowers Relational Databases to Meet the Demands of the New Customer-Facing IT
Anyone who has an application that is facing growing problems would do themselves a favor by investigating the improvements that in-memory can bring.
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IT has switched from an expense to a revenue source, even for companies in traditional sectors like banking, transportation, and logistics. Customers are increasingly demanding new digital experiences, which requires larger investments in IT resources but which potentially yields greater bottom-line rewards. Hunter Muller calls this switch the "big shift" in his book “The Big Shift in IT Leadership," and he describes it as proceeding from "inward-facing" to "outward-facing" IT. In other words, the "customers" of IT departments aren't just internal employees anymore but are rather the larger public.
Along with this outward-facing shift naturally comes more web-based products as well as the need for additional APIs to power digital resources like mobile devices, in-store displays, and billboards. The problem that companies run into, however, is that their existing relational databases with valuable information aren’t capable of scaling up to meet these new demands, and furthermore, may be unable to communicate with one another. This means that applications aren’t able to quickly provide the aggregated information that customers are demanding.
But let’s begin with what constitutes the “digital experiences” (DXes) that customers have increasingly come to expect. CMSWire, which runs the annual DXSummit Conference, defines digital experiences as “the range of experiences that people have with an organization's communications, products, and processes on every digital touchpoint.” So basically, a DX is a customer interaction with a company that is enabled by digital technologies. These interactions could be giving information about prior purchases (account history, shipping info, etc.), providing information about products to encourage more business (buyer reviews), assessing future needs (questionnaires), or simply providing entertainment to engender customer loyalty.
In-Memory Can Empower Digital Transformations
Fortunately, in-memory technologies provide a solution for accommodating all of these additional DX and other new demands on relational stacks. Through replication, in-memory can act as the “glue” between isolated relational databases, allowing them to communicate. This is set up through log reading, and both enterprise and open-source databases can be accommodated—from Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server, to MySQL and PostgreSQL.
In-memory also easily scales horizontally, allowing applications to grow to practically unlimited sizes, thus future-proofing them. And this horizontal scaling can happen across commodity servers, which is much cheaper than the common vertical scaling of relational databases. Of course, in-memory technologies are also simply faster at serving up data than relational—yet they can still have ACID properties.
Anyone who has an application that is facing growing problems in the current expanding digital environment would do themselves a favor by investigating the improvements that in-memory can bring. And because in-memory can be tested as a microservice without requiring a retooling of a whole stack, it’s a relatively easy solution to experiment with. If it’s determined not to be an improvement, nothing is lost, apart from the little bit of time and effort invested.
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