Microsoft and the Rise of In-Memory Computing

Michael Vizard

While most of the focus this week at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was on Microsoft's ambitions for the cloud, the greatest amount of buzz emanating from the conference in terms of technology innovation arguably belonged to Denali, the company's forthcoming instance of a 64-bit version of the Microsoft SQL Server database that can run in-memory.

One of the first places that Denali, which is now in its third release as a Community Technology Preview, will make its presence felt is in the realm of business intelligence and analytics applications that generally have major performance requirements. While companies such as SAP have led the charge in terms of citing the value of in-memory computing using new platforms such as the High Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA), it will probably fall to Microsoft to make in-memory computing mainstream in the enterprise.


One of the first application vendors to provide support for Denali is Panorama Software, which this week announced that it has plans to create a new semantic model for building business intelligence applications based on online analytical databases (OLAP) running on top of Denali.

According to Panorama Software CEO Eynav Azarya, the benefits of Denali are that executives will able to analyze terabytes of data in seconds using industry-standard x86 servers and because the entire environment is running in-memory, there is no need to waste tons of time modeling data. As a result, Azarya says we should see a major expansion of BI usage in the enterprise simply because the time and effort to create these applications will be sharply reduced.

Because of the rise of in-memory computing, major changes are afoot in terms of how applications are processed on servers. To its credit, Microsoft is at the forefront of making these changes happen, which means that by this time next year, we'll probably see in-memory computing being a lot more common inside IT organizations than most people realize today.

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