A major stepping-stone in IT evolution has been laid. The trouble is, no one noticed. That is the message from analyst Bloor Research in a newly-published paper on 'main memory' databases. The report says that while such database products have established themselves in an important niche for the management of performance-critical transactions, they are biding their time before they enter the mainstream. Main memory databases provide high performance by storing data in memory, instead of on disk, eliminating disk-related processing. They offer considerable performance benefits because they have been optimised to use memory, unlike standard databases which, although they are capable of caching information in memory, are not tuned to do so. 'You can expect at least a ten-fold performance improvement using main memory databases, even compared to databases where all the information is sitting in a cache,' said report author Rob Hailstone. He believes existing leading database suppliers will either adopt the technology or see their market share dwindle. 'As more and more distributed users access increasing amounts of information in databases, conventional technology will run out of steam,' he claimed. Defence contractor Marconi is using a main memory database in a system that calculates the safest routes for aircraft in hostile environments. Changes in circumstances need to be relayed to the pilot as quickly as possible. 'We'd never entertain the use of a relational database in this case, as we need to get data very rapidly,' said Charlie Hewitt, project manager at the defence firm. Hailstone claims that main memory databases could embrace most current database applications as well as a number of new web-based applications. Existing tools can access main memory databases because they support the open database connectivity standard, he added.
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