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Asa Holmstrom: Databases and the future of real-time, next-generation transactional applications

Starcounter is a database development company. Its in-memory database is based on the company’s patented VMDBMS technology, which efficiently integrates the application with the Database Management System. The Starcounter database is built for highly transactional large-scale and real-time systems, systems supporting thousands or millions of simultaneous users, such as retail systems, adserve applications, online stores and finance applications. The database guarantees consistency by processing true ACID-compliant database transactions. Starcounter is a privately held company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rake Narang: What do CIOs need to know about real-time transactional applications?

Asa Holmstrom: With the internet and real-time data flow growing, there is an obvious challenge facing any real-time transactional application on how to handle these huge increasing volumes and still provide satisfactory performance to users. Until today, the solutions to these performance challenges have involved scaling out – adding more hardware – to solve the problem. This of course has a price, not just with the hardware and corresponding software licenses, but also the maintenance of the hardware (e.g., the costs of resources for data centers, power, and labor to maintain it all). With new database solutions available today, new opportunities open up for real-time transactional applications. Now, extreme performance can be provided with an order of magnitude less hardware, lowering the costs for both real-time transactional application development and, most of all, the hardware park to maintain it all.

About Asa Holmstrom

Rake Narang: How should we define the database market? What’s coming next for databases?

Asa Holmstrom: The database market is getting extremely crowded, with the traditional relational database vendors and the NoSQL challengers, as well. Under the NoSQL label, we find several different kinds of players, however many of them provide the exact same message – “fastest database”. But these are apples and pears; the database market will become more clear and easy to understand if you define it by adoption, by which databases are designed for handling analytical data, by which are designed for operational data, and by which are designed for transactional processing. Next for databases are more cloud services and churn rates increasing for databases built from ground up to utilize modern hardware technology. In the long term, we will see stronger integration between applications and databases, as well as new structures of data architecture to simplify integration between applications.

Rake Narang: What are the strengths and weaknesses of OldSQL, NoSQL and NewSQL technology?

Asa Holmstrom: OldSQL databases, the traditional relational databases, still keep a strong market position. Their strength comes from full featured stable systems, capable of handling all kinds of applications, analytics, operational as well as transactions with full ACID capabilities. Their weaknesses and challenges come with performance and capabilities of handling big data. However, the philosophy “if it works don’t touch it” still plays a role here. It is so much easier to throw some extra dollars to solve these issues than to change the infrastructure, change databases and possibly rewrite application code. NoSQL databases provide better performance for analytics and big data. NewSQL provides better performance for operational data while assuring ACID transactions, as well as the ability for developers to use the SQL language.

Rake Narang: What key criterias need to be considered when choosing a high performance NoSQL database?

Asa Holmstrom: It is of essence to be clear about the purpose of your application when choosing a database. Is the application operational or analytical? You also need to consider data volumes. What kind of volumes of data will you store? In addition, is there any need for data consistency? Is the data to be kept alive? Is the order of how to change data of importance? Do you need support for transactions? ACID transactions? Another criterion is performance. That is, what kind of performance will you need? How many simultaneous users? There’s also data security to consider. What kind of requirements do you have for your data security? For the development environment, is there any requirement regarding ease of use? How efficient is the database to develop in? The last key criterion to consider is cost. That is, what is your time to market, what are your investment costs, and what will the total cost of ownership be?

Company: Starcounter
Nybrogatan 15, 114 39, Stockholm, Sweden

Founded in: 2006
CEO: Asa Holmstrom
Public or Private: Private
Head Office in Country: Sweden
Products and Services: In-memory database
Key Words: Database, In-memory, NoSQL, NewSQL, VMDBMS, ACID transactions

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