In-memory computing (IMC) technologies have been available for years. However, until recently, the cost of memory made IMC impractical for all but the most performance-critical, high value applications.

Over the last few years, however, with memory prices falling and demand for high performance increasing in just about every area of computing, I’ve watched IMC discussions go from causing glazed eyes to generating mild interest, to eliciting genuine excitement: “Please! I need to understand how this technology can help me!”

Why all the excitement? Because companies that understand the technology also understand that if they don’t incorporate it into their architectures, they won’t be able to deliver the applications and the performance their customers demand today and will need tomorrow. , both key elements of an in-memory computing platform, have gained recognition and mindshare as more and more companies have deployed them successfully.

All the new developments around in-memory computing shouldn’t fool you into thinking it’s unproven. It’s a mature, mainstream technology that’s been used for more than a decade in applications including fraud detection, high-speed trading and high performance computing.

(HTAP) models which allow them to transact and run queries on the same operational data set, reducing the complexity and cost of their computing infrastructure in use cases such as IoT.

The importance of IMC will continue to increase over the coming years as ongoing development and new technologies become available including:

First-class support for distributed SQL

Strong support for SQL will extend the life of this industry standard, eliminating the need for SQL professionals to learn proprietary languages to create queries—something they can do with a single line of SQL code. Leading in-memory data grids already include ANSI SQL-99 support.

Non-volatile memory (NVM)

NVM retains data during a power loss, eliminating the need for software-based fault-tolerance. A decade from now, NVM will likely be the predominant computing storage model, enabling large-scale, in-memory systems which only use hard disks or flash drives for archival purposes.

Hybrid storage models for large datasets

By supporting a universal interface to all storage media—RAM, flash, disk, and NVM—IMC platforms will give businesses the flexibility to easily adjust storage strategy and processing performance to meet budget requirements without changing data-access mechanisms. 

IMC as a system of record

IMC platforms will increasingly be used by businesses as authoritative data sources for business-critical records. This will in part be driven by IMC support for highly efficient hybrid transactional and analytical processing (HTAP) on the same database as well as the introduction of disk-based persistence layers for high availability and disaster recovery.

Artificial intelligence

Machine learning on small, dense datasets is easily accomplished today, but machine learning on large, sparse data sets requires a data management system that can store terabytes of data and perform fast parallel computations, a perfect IMC use case.

All the new developments around in-memory computing shouldn’t fool you into thinking it’s unproven. It’s a mature, mainstream technology that’s been used for more than a decade in applications including fraud detection, high-speed trading and high performance computing. But it’s now more affordable and vendors are making their IMC platforms easier to use and applicable to more use cases. The sooner you begin exploring IMC, the sooner your company can benefit from it.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network.

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