The Other German In-Memory Database Company

Michael Vizard
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How to Sell Senior Management on a Data Warehouse

The real benefits of data warehousing are indirect: the ability for your company to make better, faster decisions that will save money and increase revenue.

While SAP in particular has been banging the drum about the potential of its in-memory High Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA) platform, it turns out there is another German company that has developed an in-memory database platform.

Later this year, Exasol AG will bring to the U.S. an SQL-compatible EXASolution in-memory database in a columnar format that has been optimized for data warehouse and business intelligence applications.

According to Carsten Weidmann, head of presales for Exasol, the fact that EXASolution is SQL-compatible means that as a database technology it's much less disruptive than rival in-memory platforms, while still being five times or more faster.

The reason for this, says Weidmann, is that in addition to better algorithms, EXASolution has a built-in management system that dynamically swaps files in and out of memory. That capability, says Weidmann, is critical when it comes to supporting ad hoc queries. EXASolution itself is delivered as a software appliance that makes the database easy to deploy on industry-standard servers. As such, Weidmann notes that EXASolution doesn't necessarily require organizations to invest in additional new hardware.

Exasol and SAP are hardly the only companies pushing in-memory database technology. But rivals such as IBM and Oracle tend to position in-memory database technologies as adjunct appliances to their existing database offerings. Exasol and SAP are making the case that the time to make in-memory offerings the primary database platform in the enterprise is now.

It will be interesting to see how quickly this transformation takes place. There's no doubt that in-memory database technologies are not only faster, but the total cost of deploying them is less because they require less infrastructure than traditional SQL databases. But as in most things, inertia can be a powerful deterrent to change.

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