SAP's Move Ruffles Feathers

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2006-08-14 Print this article Print

The company's new in-memory technology sparks debate over the potential threat to database vendors.

SAP's move to expand its in-memory technology beyond its business intelligence confines to broader enterprise data sets has sparked debate over the potential threat to database vendors.

eWEEK reported in its Aug. 7 issue that, according to sources close to the company, SAP is broadening the scope of its in-memory technology to areas where users need fast query and transaction capabilities and, in the process, is potentially disrupting Oracle's core relational database business (about 55 percent of SAP's customer's applications sit on an Oracle database) by negating the need to store data externally.

The consensus, among database vendors at least, is that SAP's plan won't work. While there is definite value in utilizing in-memory data capabilities, the underlying supporting data needs to reside in a standard relational database.

"An in-memory database is limited by the available RAM," said Steven Graves, president and co-founder of McObject, which develops the eXtremeDB in-memory database system, in Issaquah, Wash. "With 64-bit memory it's possible to have a terabyte size, but the time it takes to provision it is rather large. And also there's the question of the survivability of the database. If someone trips over a cord, that in-memory goes away. So in-memory is not going to replace conventional databases; it can work side-by-side and replace real time," database needs.

Indeed, both McObject and MySQL are working on hybrid models that will combine in-memory database technology with traditional data storage capabilities.

In beta now, the 5.1 release of MySQL Cluster—the company's in-memory offering—will allow users to store in memory data that overflows the database's capabilities. "The new release says, 'These objects need to reside in memory all the time, but for others that will exceed the amount of memory, they can be stored," said Robin Schumacher, director of product management at MySQL, in Cupertino, Calif. "Depending on how well the beta goes, it should be available, conservatively, [in] the first half of 2007."

Separately, a beta version of McObject's eXtremeDB in-memory database will enable users to indicate which data should be in-memory and which needs to be persistent, according to Graves.

"We created it because there are many different applications that have both transient and persistent data," said Graves. "When eXtremeDB was purely in-memory, it had to use two different products. You could periodically check point data or use our transaction logging edition, but neither was as elegant as a single product. And neither addressed the scalability issue, for the database to scale beyond the available store."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: SAP's Move Ruffles Feathers


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