Tuesday, June 24, 2008

RAM is the new disk!

Seen this interesting post seen on InfoQ, also relayed on Nati Shalom's blog (Gigaspaces).

This raises some comments:

  • No discussion there is a need for in-memory databases.

    • RAM and network evolutions are changing the database space. And maybe the impact of network evolution is even more important than the RAM.

      • RAM disks exist for a long time in OS.

      • USB keys are a kind of disk on RAM.

      • The notion of keeping information alive once the box is stopped is important. Yes, at the end the disk could be mostly used for archiving rather than for storing.

    • Most current database technologies are cluttered by disk access APIs, this also includes db4o, HSQLDB and the like.

      • That said, as opposed to what Nati said, some advanced database technologies (like Oracle and Versant for instance) are able to bypass OS stream-oriented disk APIs and can directly manage the disk space.

      • Having caches in database engines will not olve the problem, this remembers me the first white papers from TimesTen, 12 years ago.

  • New technologies won't replace existing ones, they complement them.

    • 15 years ago, some were predicting the death of mainframes... they are still predominant.

    • Disk technologies can still be improved, see Cameron Purdy's comment for instance.

    • Disks have seen the most impressive progression among the various computers components since 20 years.

  • In-memory data grids (IMDG) won't eliminate the need for ORM (and Universal mapping, when extended to non-relational data stores and non-object consumers).

    • They just put it in a different place, in an intermediate box.

This all leads us to the notion of a Data Services Platform. Which includes a cache, but is not limited to a cache. The Data Access Layer will become even more important than the database itself which will become the storage layer.

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