Trends in the Embedded Database Market
SQL Anywhere is one of the most widely used database products by ISVs to embed inside their software applications. As a result, we have quite a large and diverse set of partners feeding us thoughts and requests. I thought I might share with you some of the most important trends we are seeing, along with some indications how we are moving to address these trends. These thoughts came up recently in some planning discussions our team was having.
Embedded database applications moving to the cloud
This is perhaps the biggest trend we are seeing. Vendors of traditional on-premise applications are looking for ways to broaden their customer base by attracting customers who do not want to run software and database servers locally, but are looking for a SaaS flavor of the application. As a result of this move to the cloud, some of the considerations for software vendors such as ourselves are:
- Self-management, security and availability are important.
- New licensing models made possible by the cloud.
- Different developer technologies such as scripting languages are becoming popular.
During many discussions with ISVs, they have voiced these concerns about any database in the cloud approach:
- Prefer to reuse as much of their existing code and intellectual property (IP) as possible.
- Avoid vendor lock-in to a hosting provider.
- The flexibility to ensure security by hosting multiple databases on a per-tenant basis.
Of course, our SQL Anywhere on-demand edition is designed specifically for these ISV customers, enabling them to reuse their existing SQL Anywhere database code, while transitioning their application into a SaaS offering. I’ve written about this in the past. (Here, here, and here).
Over the last couple years, there has been a large number of advancements to computing hardware, affecting ISVs selling software to run on-premise at their customer locations. These include
- Parallel processing. It is nearly impossible to purchase a machine today without at least 2 cores, if not more. The embedded database needs to take advantage of this new desktop capability by offering intra-query parallelism enabling faster queries, especially of large data sets.
- Memory based technology starting to replace disk-based technology. SSDs offer the promise of blinding performance when compared to spinning disk technology. It throws into question server algorithms designed to with spinning disks in mind.
- Rise of the tablet. Enterprise applications are being designed which will require access to data, either locally, or over the internal network.
- Dynamic hardware. Hardware specs can change often, even while host is online, especially in virtualized environments. An embedded database server needs to be able to adjust itself accordingly, taking advantage of any additional capabilities that become available, and scaling itself back when resources are taken away.
SQL Anywhere supports many of these things, but we will have more to say on this topic later this fall around our upcoming ‘Nagano’ release.
While the phrase ‘Big Data’ is relatively new, there is already a huge amount of material on the web about it. Most of this focus is on enterprise applications, and less on embedded databases, but I believe that will change over the next couple years, especially with increasing focus on in-memory technology and support for non-structured data. SQL Anywhere may not play in the Big Data space today, but certainly Sybase and SAP do, with Sybase IQ and SAP HANA.
If you have any additional thoughts to add here, please feel free to comment.