Back in June we cleared the air about In-Memory Computing, comparing it to the Tesla cars of computing paradigms. It’s a 100 percent new paradigm rather than just a hybrid tool to speed things up, and it’s that reason that has made In-Memory so largely misunderstood.
But as the world gets clarity on what In-Memory actually does and what it can do for your business, the question remains, “Is In-Memory Computing Ready for the Mainstream?” We invited Gartner Analyst Massimo Pezzini to answer that very question on our Analyst Corner segment, and he took us into the nuance of where IMC will be in a few years and some of the challenges organizations are facing now as they adopt.
To help you out, we’ve boiled down some of the pros and cons that can help you make a decision on adopting IMC today.
“If your competitor is able to re-plan its supply chain in matter of seconds and it takes you hours, then you have a problem from a competitive standpoint,” Pezzini said. “If your competitors are able to dynamically change pricing of their products in a real time fashion and instead you are only able to change your prices once per day, then you have a competitive problem,” he added.
The truth with In-Memory Computing is if this is the way of the future, you can’t wait. IMC is designed to solve problems related to speed, scale and insight. It’s critical for financial companies where the difference between making or losing millions can be a matter of seconds. It’s absolutely necessary for e-Commerce groups in needs of scaling to serve millions at once. And it’s a Godsend for running intelligence reports that would’ve taken hours or days to process before.
A bank in Sweden called Avanza Bank completely re-built their core banking and trading architecture on top of an In-Memory Computing platform. “They’re able to release new products and services to their customers in a matter of literally a few days. They release a new version of their application every eight working days, Pezzini explained. “Now they can run an incredible amount of transactions per second that would be impossible to run using their previous architecture.”
Avanza Bank’s ability to solve scalability problems and introduce greater product innovation didn’t exist with their previous architecture; the transformative capabilities are real, and because IMC is a young technology, the potential can only go up.
Pezzini says that IMC “does not necessarily need to cost a fortune.” The cost of DRAM has dropped three percent every 18 months over the last few years, and in that time it has achieved a level of maturity in which companies have identified killer applications in the form of supply chain management or planning, business intelligence, E-Commernce and more.
Prices will continue to drop as more innovation in this space takes hold and as more vendors enter into the fray, many of them larger organizations with more marketing dollars to throw around to educate companies on the benefits of IMC.
Not Plug and Play
In-Memory may not immediately produce the results, if any results, you desire simply by swapping out technologies and architecture. It requires skills and expertise to manage what’s going on, and it’s not something that can be done as cheaply as many organizations first expect.
“The rhetoric suggests that you just replace your traditional database with the In-Memory computing technology, and all of sudden automatically the application will run 1000 times faster; that’s not really the case,” Pezzini said. “If you don’t have enough skills, if you don’t have the experience and the expertise and if you cannot find anybody helping you, the benefits are simply not going to happen.”
Lack of Standards
While IMC is far from immature, a lack of standards has kept it far away from complete adoption. Pezzini says customers are finding it difficult to determine which technology they need and which they can do without, namely because there is overlap and because the current standards only address small portions of the overall IMC architecture.
It’s also proving an impediment to software vendors trying to help organizations migrate pre-existing applications to an IMC standard. He believes in the next three to five years the industry will see radical changes still to the hardware supporting IMC technology, which will further help reduce cost and improve manageability.
Vendors thus far have been unable to help their clients fully translate the theoretical benefits of In-Memory into concrete business benefits on a project-by-project, vertical-by-vertical or process-by-process basis. The reason being, it’s difficult to understand what the best technological fix might be for a specific problem, be it a data grid, database or a complex processing technology. Many organizations are now required to build custom solutions on top of In-Memory, and it will be some time before IMC is integrated into other horizontal types of solutions.
The difference now is that major companies like SAP, HP, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle are all fully committed to IMC and educating the market. It will lead to a convergence of disparate types of IMC technology and a reduction in technology fragmentation and disjointed standards as a result.