In-Memory Capabilities Seen as Critical to Remain Competitive, According to New Survey

Databases are hampered by a reliance on disk-based storage, a technology that has been in place for more than two decades. Even with the addition of memory caches and solid state drives, the model of relying on repeated access to the permanent information storage devices is still a bottleneck in capitalizing on today’s “big data,” according to a new survey of 323 data managers and professionals who are part of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). The survey was underwritten by SAP Corporation and conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc.

The survey finds that today’s data warehouse environments are not keeping up with the explosive growth of data volume (or “big data”) and the demand for real-time analytics.  Fewer than one out of 10 data warehouse sites in the survey, for example, can deliver analysis in what respondents would consider a real-time timeframe. And, overall, existing database and data warehouse environments are time-consuming for both administrators and end users.

In-memory technologies provide a way to dramatically speed up repetitive access and analyze information, accomplished by loading complete data sets into computers’ random access memory. The technologies not only can increase the speed of data processing by orders of magnitude, but they also can facilitate program changes to increase the freshness of data, as well as the cost-effectiveness of data systems.

However, while speed is the most compelling business case to be made for in-memory technology, data executives and professionals also look to expand their analytics capabilities, as well as to enhance their ability to manage Big Data. The top benefits/innovations of in-memory technology according to respondents, are improvement in query response time (70%), reduction in data latency (52%), accelerated access to detailed data (47%), and management of increasing data volume or big data (45%). The top opportunities for in-memory technology to address current and future demands of the respondents’ organizations are real-time reporting (33%), acceleration of existing data warehouse environments (29%), as an agile data mart complementing an existing data warehouse (27%), and for accelerating transaction systems or transaction processes (27%).

Nearly 75% of respondents believe that in-memory technology is important to enabling their organization to remain competitive in the future. Yet, almost as many also indicate they lack the in-memory skills to deliver even current business requirements. In-memory is most often currently deployed to augment or accelerate existing data environments.

Just 9% of respondents to survey claim they have a deep or expert-level understanding of how the technology works, and a large majority indicate they still need to dive deeper into learning these technologies. The largest segment, 41%, say they have only a basic understanding of the technology, while another 26% admit their understanding is either limited or non-existent. Overall, a majority, 77%, admit they either lack or don't have sufficient skills to deliver in-memory technologies to meet current business requirements.

The executive report of this study is publicly available, and IOUG members may log in to access the full research paper, "Accelerating Enterprise Insights: 2013 IOUG In-Memory Strategies Survey." Go here