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Achieveing Large Scale In-Memory Computing in the Federal Sector


The term “In-Memory Computing” is in growing use among federal technologists. The term refers to the ability to store and process data directly in the main Random Access Memory (RAM) of a computer vice storing the data off into slow devices like hard disks. By using in-memory techniques, incredibly large quantities of data can be understood by a computer all at once and processed quickly, enabling three major benefits:

  1. Legacy systems can scale their performance up almost instantly by a relatively minor architecture change, enabling even older capabilities to serve many more users than they were first designed for.
  2. It is now possible to rapidly compare new data to all existing data holdings and generate actionable results that can have immediate impact on ongoing missions. This has important benefits to a wide variety of missions that involve a need to take action based on new information, including missions like emergency response, law enforcement, military, intelligence and space exploration.
  3. New systems leveraging in-memory computing can be designed with much smarter data replication, backup and security features and can do so for relatively low cost since backup and recovery options are much smarter.

The most widely used in-memory capability is the open source Java distributed cache called Ehcache, and most all new enterprise solutions in the federal sector are probably either already leveraging Ehcache to some extent or are ready to. Ehcache is used by Java developers all over the world to provide features such as a powerful in-memory data management platform, scalable in-process memory storage, smart data synchronizations across application clusters, and elegant cache management, all within a very simple and ubiquitous API. It is pure open source available under the Apache open source license. If the open-source features are not enough for your requirements, the Enterprise EhCache offering, an in-memory data management platform offered by Software AG – the parent company of developer Terracotta,provides enterprise support CIOs like to see, as well as advanced capabilities such as TB-size storage all in memory, high availability, SQL querying, data center replications, and more.

Federal Computer Week’s Frank Konkel just did a great write-up of SoftwareAG’s Enterprise Ehcache in a piece titled “Feds tiptoe toward in-memory computing.”

In it he cites Software AG Government Solutions VP Bill Lochten discussing a use case for an agency’s 500 Gigabyte in-memory data store. This system is now receiving more than 100 Gigabytes, about 1 million new records, per day, and is handling them all in memory. They do it in a way designed to let analysts and agents in the field access the data immediately. From Frank’s reporting:

“What we’re opening up for this customer is the ability for them to have a tremendous amount of information at their disposal, in-memory, and that means real-time,” said Bill Lochten, vice president of Software AG Government Solutions.

“We’re able to improve performance in that we can provide information back to agents in the field in the moment,” Lochten said. “You can think of an agent literally having to verify the status of an individual or pieces of information about a potential criminal matter – we provide a 360-degree view of the situation in microseconds rather than minutes.”

The system can handle requests to its central repository from thousands of users at once. If a request for information isn’t available in the in-memory system, the IMC database pulls the data from main storage for further processing or access, said Fabien Sanglier, solution architect for Software AG Government Solutions.

Our recommendations:

  1. If you have systems in use that were designed more than 5 years ago, have your engineers consider a quick upgrade to in-memory Enterprise Ehcache to enable fast, economical modernization to enable your app to keep scaling to new demands.
  2. If you have missions that require fast access to new information or need rapid correlation between new data and existing stores, architect it for speed at the beginning. Big Data in memory is probably the way to go.





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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com

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