The End of Relational Databases?

July 7, 2009
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Hasso Plattner, SAP’s co-founder, chairman, and “Chief Software Advisor” has been giving a series of talks including his keynote at SAPPHIRE 2009 on why in his view “disk has become yesterday’s tape”, and why column storage and in-memory techniques are the future for both data warehousing AND enterprise applications, displacing the 20-year reign of relational databases.

imageExperts have advocated column databases such as Sybase IQ and LucidDB for data warehousing for many years.

But now, based on research done at the his Institute (and a lifetime of trying to get the best performance possible for enterprise applications), Plattner is advocating basing both OLAP and OLTP systems on column storage in order to eliminate the need for the cumbersome ETL process, and reduce system complexity and the number of database tables.

More details are available in his white paper A Common Database Approach for OLAP and OLTP Using an In-Memory Column Database and a related presentation. The research was conducted using SAP’s TREX technology and real customer data (to see what the technology can do in a business intelligence context, check out SAP BusinessObjects Explorer)…

hasso-banner

Hasso Plattner, SAP’s co-founder, chairman, and “Chief Software Advisor” has been giving a series of talks including his keynote at SAPPHIRE 2009 on why in his view “disk has become yesterday’s tape”, and why column storage and in-memory techniques are the future for both data warehousing AND enterprise applications, displacing the 20-year reign of relational databases.

imageExperts have advocated column databases such as Sybase IQ and LucidDB for data warehousing for many years.

But now, based on research done at the his Institute (and a lifetime of trying to get the best performance possible for enterprise applications), Plattner is advocating basing both OLAP and OLTP systems on column storage in order to eliminate the need for the cumbersome ETL process, and reduce system complexity and the number of database tables.

More details are available in his white paper A Common Database Approach for OLAP and OLTP Using an In-Memory Column Database and a related presentation. The research was conducted using SAP’s TREX technology and real customer data (to see what the technology can do in a business intelligence context, check out SAP BusinessObjects Explorer).

Given that the vast majority of relational databases are used for OLTP transactions today, this would represent a radical change for the enterprise application market.

And although data warehousing will still need to exist, because of master-data management, data synchronization, data quality, etc., it would certainly be a lot simpler, and a lot faster, since much of it could be done directly on the “transactional” data source.

While nobody has promised that SAP will develop the concept as a product, Plattner has presented his views widely to SAP employees, and leaves no doubt that he thinks this is the way ahead.

Here’s the last slide of Hasso’s presentation at the recent SIGMOD 2009 conference for database researchers – this is  certainly something that we’ve been looking forward to for a while…

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