IBM Unveils In-Memory Database

In a bid to catch up to other major database vendors, IBM has announced IBM solidDB, an in-memory relational database package which will deliver data at up to 10 times faster than conventional relational databases.

This uses technology from Solid Information Technology, a Finnish company with offices in Cupertino, Calif., which IBM acquired earlier this year.

IBM solidDB supports the company’s global Information on Demand business strategy, which lets clients rapidly use information to keep pace with change.

It can be deployed as a cache to the IBM DB2 data server or to the Informix Dynamic Server. Alternatively, it can be deployed as a standalone in-memory database.

Because the database resides in system memory, enterprises will have to increase their systems’ memory, but “the price of memory is going down dramatically and it now is very affordable,” Paola Lubet, director of product marketing for IBM solidDB, told

That’s not the only factor. Others are “64-bit addressing, which has made it possible to have larger memory space so databases can be bigger, and the advent of grid-based computing which takes away any memory limitations on the database,” IDC analyst Carl Olofson told

The solidDB database runs across “a variety of operating systems,” including any version of Linux, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris, and will be able to support DB2 on the IBM zOS mainframe operating system, Lubet added.

IBM is a tad late to the party: Oracle acquired major Solid Information Technology competitor TimesTen in June of 2005, and there are other in-memory databases in the market, some of which have since died out, Olofson said.

All are lightweight and are speedy because “they can use memory pointers instead of an indirect pointer system which points to where the database records are stored on disk,” Olofson said.

Larger vendors are acquiring in-memory database vendors to “set them up as front-end caches to improve performance,” Olofson said.

Although IBM is well behind Oracle in moving into the in-memory database field, the technology is so new that this won’t prove much of a handicap, Olofson said.

In-memory databases have mainly been used in vertical markets, such as telecommunications companies and switch builders, and those are the markets both Solid Information Technology and TimesTen targeted.

IBM will likely continue that and push into high-performance markets such as financial services, “selling solidDB as a database on its own as well as an accelerator technology,” Olofson said.

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