September 2015 - UPDATE

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Trends and Applications

In-memory databases and grids have entered the enterprise mainstream. New offerings from pure-play in-memory database providers as well as the large relational database management systems vendors are helping organizations that are scrambling to keep pace with the demands of an always-on, real-time economy. These in-memory databases are emerging in many forms—from extensions of relational database management systems to NoSQL databases to cloud hosted NoSQL databases. These new technologies couldn't come a moment too soon.

Traditional data warehousing models and open source alternatives such as Apache Hadoop and Storm have been touted as solutions to a variety of "big data" challenges. However, utilities have found that these approaches cannot handle the scale and complexity of data generated in industrial environments. Additionally, they fail to provide the real-time analysis and situational awareness that utilities need to improve decision making or address critical events in real-time, such as optimizing crews during outages and severe weather events. The challenge is how to leverage tremendous volumes of data, place it in context with other data, and create real time intelligent information for operations.

There are various terms being bandied about that describe the new world data centers are entering—from the "third platform" to the "digital enterprise" to the "always-on" organization. Whatever the terminology, it's clear there is a monumental shift underway. Business and IT leaders alike are rethinking their approaches to technology, rethinking their roles in managing this technology, and, ultimately, rethinking their businesses. The underlying technologies supporting this movement—social, mobile, data analytics, and cloud—are also causing IT leaders to rethink the way in which database systems are being developed and deployed.

Microsoft has been releasing newer versions of SQL with greater frequency, prompting DBAs to constantly ask themselves: "Is it time to upgrade?" Once that answer is yes, they have a lot of information to parse through to see what is right for their unique needs and finances.