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In-memory technologies move databases to real time

Joab Jackson | March 25, 2014
Last week, application-performance monitoring service provider New Relic launched an offering that allows customers to mine its operational data for business intelligence.

No changes are needed at the application layer, which still sees the same database interface, Kelly said.

Researchers are experimenting with other approaches as well. Stonebreaker is investigating an approach called reverse caching. In traditional caching, the most frequently consulted data is to keep live in-memory. With reverse caching, only the data that is rarely consulted is written to disk.

"We have compared caching with anti-caching with a prototype at the [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and anti-caching is a way better idea than caching," Stonebreaker said.

Part of the problem with caching is that when a caching system, such as Memcache pulls data into memory from disk, it pulls in the entire block of data on disk, which usually includes additional records. So the approach makes for inefficient use of memory. In contrast, a memory-first approach only writes to disk those specific entries that are rarely consulted.

Whether through an enterprise-ready in-memory database system, or an open-source caching layer, the organization is now able to serve its customers and its business managers much more quickly.


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