Virtualization technology made it feasible for databases of gigabyte or even terabyte size to be managed entirely in memory. This accomplishment has breathed new life into a space that hadn't seen a lot of action in the last decade. Venerable players like SAP (parent company of Sybase) are finding new ways not only to compete with Oracle but potentially exceed it. It has also opened the door for VMware to break into the database space with SQLFire. This technology, paired with a big-data storage system like Hadoop, is making customers wonder what the advantage of Oracle or SQL Server is supposed to be.
The ability to manage large databases in memory is a game-changer in a variety of activities and industries. "Having millions of people connecting to an application that's underpinned by a spinning disk, it's just not going to return information fast enough," remarks David McJannet, VMware's director of cloud and application services, in an interview with ReadWriteWeb. "You see it when people are scanning with a barcode reader or with their cell phone. They scan something, and then they wait three, four, five seconds for the answer to come back. That experience is not acceptable for most new applications, where people expect near-instant response regardless of where they are."