The Coming In-Memory Computing Disruption

Michael Vizard

Most emerging new technology winds up initially being used to make existing processes and applications run faster. It's usually not until a few years later that the disruption that new technology creates is actually felt.

The shift to in-memory computing is clearly going to be one of those disruptions, and the organizations that figure out how to leverage its full potential are likely to enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage for years to come.

According to Sethu M, deputy CTO for SAP Labs, one of the most compelling, yet unappreciated, aspects of in-memory computing is that it allows more streams of data to be processed in parallel. The significance of that capability, says Sethu M, is that it means more information and processes can be correlated in real time to gain additional insight. Properly leveraged, that analysis can then be used to alter existing business processes or create new ones to achieve a competitive advantage.

While using technology to correlate processes is not necessarily a new idea, recent advances in in-memory technology such as the SAP High Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA) platform are making the ability to process huge quantities of data more accessible. Previously, the computing horsepower needed to process huge quantities of data in memory could only be afforded by relatively few companies, such as financial services firms running complex quant applications.

Sethu M says the IT industry as a whole is on the cusp of a Renaissance period in enterprise application development that should not only witness the re-engineering of existing applications, but also the creating of new real-time applications that many people thought were previously not possible to create, manage and run in a cost-effective way.

How those applications will manifest themselves remains to be seen. Some of them will run on premise, but many more will find that in-memory computing makes deploying them as a service in the cloud more practical. Regardless of the delivery vehicle, however, chances are high that we'll soon see the emergence of a host of new companies and businesses that will leverage data analytics running in real time to disrupt the status quo across any number of vertical industry segments.

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