The Advantages of In-Memory Databases – Delivering Data in Real Time

In-memory databases are differentiated from other database management systems by the way they store data. Instead of using a disk storage mechanism, an in-memory database relies on main memory for computer data storage. For non-technologists, this might seem like a purely semantic distinction, but relying on memory for data storage actually offers several powerful advantages.

First and most importantly, in-memory databases are faster than traditional database management systems. A key reason for this is because memory access is much faster than having to access disk storage. All data is stored and managed exclusively in main memory. The speed upgrade should make intuitive sense: you are essentially eliminating an entire step in accessing data. Another key reason for this boost in speed is the fact that internal optimization algorithms for in-memory databases are less complex and require fewer CPU instructions to get the right data at the right time.

Secondly, in-memory databases are more efficient than traditional database management systems because there is less “seek time” when querying data. This, too, should make intuitive sense: when looking up data, it’s a lot easier to find what you need when the data is stored right there in main memory. This is known as minimal request time, and is absolutely essential for any industry where real-time performance is crucial.

That being said, in-memory databases are not a perfect solution. Until recently, for example, there were questions about what happens to data stored in RAM in the event of a power loss or similar event. But that drawback has largely been addressed by a number of workarounds, such as the creation of non-volatile RAM technology that can continue to run, even in the event of a power failure.

Recently, so much attention has been focused on in-memory databases because they are a much better fit for any real-world application that requires microsecond response times, as well as any application that must deal with extremely large spikes in traffic at any time. In the mid-2000’s, for example, in-memory databases became popular as a way of offering real-time analytics to large corporate customers. As the price of RAM continues to fall, and as new, more powerful multi-core processors hit the market, it’s easy to see why this trend will continue.

Thus, as can be seen, in-memory databases are superior in terms of speed, efficiency and reliability. For any application where response times are measured in microseconds, they offer an obvious value proposition. Just a decade ago, it might have been possible to use disk storage mechanisms, but the creation of a truly real-time digital landscape has also created the obvious need for in-memory databases.

Contact us to learn more about how SAP HANA in-memory technology can help your business thrive in the Digital Economy.

3 Ways That Cloud Software Has Impacted the Retail Industry

Cloud software is having a significant impact on the retail sector, especially when it comes to boosting revenue, cutting costs, and providing the type of real-time analysis needed to make better business decisions. From small retail operations with just a single store, to national and even international retail superstars, cloud software has become an important way to build competitive advantage and improve overall business performance. Here’s a brief overview of exactly how that is happening…

 

Reduced IT costs

 

By using a network of remote servers hosed on the Internet, cloud enables a “pay-as-you-go” IT system that is affordable and convenient for small retailers, as well as very robust and scalable for larger retailers. If you’re running a small clothing retailer, for example, you don’t have to worry about installing your own equipment or maintaining your own servers – everything runs smoothly on the cloud.

 

Instead of spending money each month on excess IT costs, retailers can then re-invest those dollars into running the actual business. And for larger retailers, it’s possible to trade up to enhanced functionality on the fly, all without the need for calling in IT vendors or installing new equipment.

 

Real-time visibility into the business

 

If you’re not running your retail business in the cloud, you simply won’t have access to the types of real-time insights that cloud software enables. That’s especially true in the digital device era, when retail store managers with smartphones and tablets can literally have real-time insights into how their business is running regardless of where they are in the world.

 

That’s especially important when it comes to supply chain logistics, where real-time insights can be the key to avoiding inventory stock-outs, lost deliveries and sub-optimal inventory levels. With cloud software solutions designed for the retail sector, store managers will always know exactly how much inventory they have on hand, as well as the status of deliveries and orders.

 

This type of real-time visibility does more than just empower store managers – it also empowers the retail staff on the floor. When these sales associates have tablets or other digital devices, they can tell customers exactly which items are in stock, when a delivery is set to arrive, or how to find a specific item at any retail location in the store’s network. It all adds up to a superior customer service experience.

 

Enhanced productivity through cross-department collaboration

 

At many companies, information about a business is “siloed” into different departments, making it difficult for, say, the marketing team to interact with the finance team, or the supply chain team to interact with the sales team. Ultimately, that results in a lot of lost productivity.

 

But imagine what can happen when retail store managers can see exactly how a specific marketing campaign is performing, or a budgeting team can see exactly what’s happening at the warehouse. It means much better insights into the overall operation of the business, and the end of the silo mentality. It also makes it possible to generate reports on an as-needed basis, rather than waiting for monthly or quarterly updates.

 

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It’s no wonder, then, that cloud has become a multi-billion dollar market opportunity within the retail sector. It’s not just that retail stores have better information and better data – they also have the right tools to cut costs, boost sales and improve overall profitability. For any retail business looking to boost its performance, cloud software offers a very compelling opportunity.