Stop it database industry, we’re blushing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and, as the spring conference season gives way to summer vacations, we’ve noticed a flood of announcements from database vendors doing their best MemSQL impressions. Here are a few stories that caught our attention.
Oracle and SQL Server Go In-Memory
The new Oracle 12c and SQL Server 2014 both feature in-memory storage engines on top of their existing disk-based storage. Seek latency and disk contention are dirty little (open) secrets among legacy database vendors, so the move makes sense as the granddaddies of the industry try to update their technology for real-time applications. Oracle even went so far as to title their announcement webcast, “The Future of the Database Begins Soon.”
MemSQL agrees that the Future of Databases is in-memory. It’s kind of our thing. In fact, we’ve had an in-memory database on the market for a while, so I guess the Future is now, or the recent past…we tore a hole in the space-time continuum! Postgres is now also Pregres and cloud computing means using a laptop from your hoverboard.
Anyway, it’s worth noting that these recently announced in-memory storage engines are built on top of legacy technology. Oracle 12c and SQL Server were both originally designed to run on a single machine, not in a distributed environment. You can shard your database, but you’re going to end up doing extra computations client-side and find severe performance degradation when you scale beyond a few nodes. Conversely, MemSQL was originally designed as a distributed database. You get linear performance improvement as you add nodes, sharding is automatic, and the distributed query optimizer makes use of all system resources. This is a Future Oracle and Microsoft have yet to realize.
Spark 1.0 Includes Spark SQL Alpha
If Oracle and Microsoft are the granddaddies of the database industry, then Apache Spark is kind of like a bright but moody teenager. While there has been some confusion recently as to whether Spark is in fact a “speedy Swiss Army Knife1,” the point remains that Spark is an interesting technology and will probably see wider adoption in the future. If you’ve been paying attention, you probably know that the biz is a-buzz about Spark.
An interesting point about the Spark 1.0 release is that it contains the alpha version of Spark SQL. Why would they go and sully this Hot New Technology with boring old SQL? For good reason, actually: because people already know how to use it and because it’s a simple, powerful query language.
Spark isn’t alone in adding SQL support. Usability by anyone other than experienced developers has been an impediment to wide(er) spread Hadoop adoption. In response, SQL on Hadoop engines (Hive, Impala, et al.) have grown in popularity as a way to make data accessible to analysts and other business types. Even NoSQL query languages are starting to look more SQL-y as they try to appease developers who are getting nostalgic for the days when they could run JOINs.
At MemSQL, we also like SQL. We like it so much that we put it in our name and built a database around it. SQL may not be the new hotness, but it enables organizations to realize the full value of (i.e. actually use) their new Big Data solution.
SAP Offers HANA Cloud Platform-as-a-Service
I’ll leave it to the SAP marketing folks to decide whether Platform-as-a-Service still counts as an “appliance,” but HANA Cloud PaaS is now available. The move makes sense given the restrictive hardware requirements on traditional HANA deployments and the fact that if it ain’t cloud, it ain’t current. It also ain’t cheap. It costs $83,295 per month for 1TB of RAM2, or about a million dollars a year.
MemSQL has always run in cloud and virtualized environments on commodity hardware. cloud.memsql.com lets you deploy to AWS with a few clicks and the time it takes to make a fried egg. MemSQL doesn’t publicly discuss pricing information (you’ll have to contact sales), but even this marketing guy knows that a million dollars is going to get you a lot more than a single terabyte. We also think the transparency and flexibility of an easy deploy-it-yourself approach outweigh the perceived convenience of PaaS.
Predicting Future News Cycles
I have been to the Future and, before the memory loss effects of time travel set in, I’m going to tell you what’s coming next. At MemSQL, we see a future where customers are using Hybrid Transaction and Analytical Processing (HTAP). Gartner published a whitepaper3 a few months ago explaining that HTAP, or the ability to carry out OLTP (or “operational”) and OLAP workloads simultaneously in a single database of record, will drive innovation and open up new channels of revenue. Applications like anomaly detection, real-time ad serving, personalized consumer recommendations, and real-time operational analytics will enable organizations to extract more value from Big Data and turn new opportunities for customer engagement and operational efficiency into cash.
Thanks to some novel technology4 like lock-free data structures and compiled query plans, HTAP is already possible with MemSQL. Try it today! Download a MemSQL trial today before the rip in the space-time continuum closes and you just have to sit around waiting for the Future (that’s already here).