Elastic Caching Platforms Balance Performance, Scalability, And Fault Tolerance

Mike Gualtieri

Fast Access To Data Is The Primary Purpose Of Caching

Developers have always used data caching to improve application performance. (CPU registers are data caches!) The closer the data is to the application code, the faster the application will run because you avoid the access latency caused by disk and/or network. Local caching is fastest because you cache the data in the same memory as the code itself. Need to render a drop-down list faster? Read the list from the database once, and then cache it in a Java HashMap. Need to avoid the performance-sapping disk trashing of an SQL call to repeatedly render a personalized user’s Web page? Cache the user profile and the rendered page fragments in the user session.

Although local caching is fine for Web applications that run on one or two application servers, it is insufficient if any or all of the following conditions apply:

  • The data is too big to fit in the application server memory space.
  • Cached data is updated and shared by users across multiple application servers.
  • User requests, and therefore user sessions, are not bound to a particular application server.
  • Failover is required without data loss.

To overcome these scaling challenges, application architects often give up on caching and instead turn to the clustering features provided by relational database management systems (RDBMSes). The problem: It is often at the expense of performance and can be very costly to scale up. So, how can firms get improved performance along with scale and fault tolerance?

Elastic Caching Platforms Balance Performance With Scalability And Availability

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CSC Sharpens Its Innovation Focus

Christopher Andrews

In my recent interviews with IT services providers on the topic of innovation, one of the key findings was the many different ways in which innovation can be categorized.  Some companies view innovation as simply an extension of their traditional R&D capabilities, others view their innovation as a way to prove their thought leadership, still others view innovation largely as a strategic marketing imperative. Sometimes, it’s a combination of these factors.

One interview that stood out was with Lem Lasher, the Chief Innovation Officer (and Global Business Services President) at CSC, who described to me a deep and holistic approach to transforming CSC’s innovation capabilities.  Three things that stood out at me about Lem’s approach:

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Launching A New Blog On Tech Economics

Andrew Bartels

With Forrester’s new blogging platform in place, I have the opportunity to launch a series of blogs about tech economics.  What do I mean by tech economics?  To me, tech economics first means how the larger economy and the tech sector interact.  I am interested both in how economic conditions impact the demand for technology goods and services and how business and government purchases of these tech goods and services affect the economy as a whole and the industries and firms in the economy.  Second, tech economics is about the revenue of tech vendors, both what they are reporting in the present and past and what we expect those revenues will be based on future purchases by their business and government customers.

 

My published research on the US and global IT market outlook, industry, regional, and country IT purchase trends, big trends like Smart Computing, and the ePurchasing software market (which I also cover) will continue to be my platform for addressing tech economics.  However, I want to use this blog to talk about four focused aspects of the tech market: 1) tech data sources; 2) tech industry definitions; 3) tech market developments; and 4) tech market dynamics.   Let’s call these the 4Ds of tech economics, and each will have its own strand of comments and observations.

 

D1: Tech data sources will be of most use to the data geeks like me in tech vendors.  These are folks who use my numbers in their own forecasts of the market for their firm and its products.  These blogs will talk about the data sources that I use in building my tech market sizing and forecasts, issues and questions about these data sources, and how the data geeks can leverage them.  I will share some (but not all!) of our secret sauce for our forecasts, and I hope you will share some of yours so we can all get better.

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My Return To Email Marketing

Shar VanBoskirk

First of all, let me welcome you to Forrester's new blogging platform. Hopefully you'll find this blogging environment an easy way to access our blog-worthy ideas and community comments

Next, I wanted to officially announce (drum roll please) that I am back leading Forrester's email marketing research. Some of you may know that I did a lot of work in email marketing until 2007 when Julie Katz took the helm, joined subsequently by David Daniels following Forrester's acquisition of Jupiter. I'm excited to be back in the space and already have a stream of research underway.

First up is a piece on how the recession has affected consumer attitudes toward email marketing.
Then next quarter look for three pieces:
*One on the integration of email and social media
*Another updating our email marketing review methodology. See here for the older version.
*And then the third doing a best and worst of email marketing. This piece is also an update of some similar research we did here a few years ago.

What email marketing research would you like to see from us? I'd love to include your ideas in my research plan.

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eBusiness Leaders are Optimistic about 2010

Carrie Johnson

No one that manages a P&L will ever look back at 2009 and say "what a fun year!" eBusiness executives are certainly glad to have 2009 behind them and report to us that 2010 is not as fraught with economic concerns. We just published the results of our most recent survey of 100 eBusiness and Channel Strategy executives and found that although overall budgets for eBusiness aren't increasing that dramatically, our respondents aren't feeling the heat to cut back like they were last year. 

Even better, our survey respondents are increasing their budget for new innovation and technology. In 2010, the percentage of the online budget dedicated to new investment and innovation is expected to increase or significantly increase at 52% of firms. Hooray! It's a battle cry for all eBusiness execs to step up their games, and for senior executives in their firms to step up their commitment to and support of the channel. Spending (by our respondents) will focus on analytics and then ratings and review platforms.

Analytics have been a constant in our surveys, and ratings and reviews don't surprise us. Social media is hard for eBusiness execs to get their heads around because many social efforts clearly drive marketing objectives like brand engagement, but the impact on actual sales and conversion is fuzzier. Ratings and reviews are a clearer conversion tool for retailers in particular. My colleague Brad Strothkamp wrote a blog post though about the use of ratings and reviews in financial services, which is not nearly as black and white an issue. 

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SAP Middleware Directions: More Open Source, In-Memory Stuff

John R. Rymer

At the 15 March press and analyst Q&A by SAP co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott, new middleware boss Vishal Sikka shed more light on the company's intentions for NetWeaver. Many of SAP's business applications customers use NetWeaver, both as a foundation for SAP's applications and to extend those applications using integration, portals, and custom developed apps. For about a year, the question has been how much additional investment SAP will put into NetWeaver.

Sikka made two comments that indicate how he's thinking about the NetWeaver portfolio.

1. In response to my question about whether SAP is concerned that Oracle's ownership of Java will put it at a disadvantage, Sikka started by highlighting SAP's work on Java performance, but then noted the availability of good open-source Java software to support the requirements of SAP customers.

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Wipro prepares for the Business Technology Challenge

Christopher Andrews

I just completed a day of analyst information sessions hosted by executives at Wipro Technologies. A few of my thoughts:

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A Dire Year For Banking Platform Vendors

Jost Hoppermann

For the past couple of years, I have worked on the analysis of global banking platform deals at this time of the year. Currently, I’m again working on the results of a global banking platform deals survey, this time for the year 2009. Accenture and CSC did not participate in 2009, and former participants Fiserv and InfrasoftTech continued their absence from the survey, which started about two years ago. The 2009 survey began with confirmed submissions from a total of 19 banking platform vendors.

We would have been glad to see more participating vendors, in particular some of the more regionally oriented ones. However, US vendor Jack Henry & Associates as well as multiple regional vendors in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America did not participate. Nevertheless, the survey saw some “newcomers” from the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East, for example, Top Systems in Uruguay, Eri Bancaire in Switzerland, and Path Solutions in Kuwait. Consequently, the survey now covers banking platform vendors in all regions of the world except Africa and Central America.

However, 19 was not the final vendor count: One of the 19 vendors, France-based banking platform vendor Viveo, dropped out of the survey because Temenos acquired it shortly before Viveo provided its data. Another vendor simply told us that it only saw business with existing clients and, in the absence of any business with new clients, it saw no sense in participating. While all other participating vendors won business with new clients (whether the rules of the game allowed Forrester to count that business or not), 2009 was not the best of times.

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Mobile Coupons - What about them?

Julie Ask

This is probably one of the top 10 inquiries I get from clients. Should I have a mobile coupon offering? If so, what form of mobile technology should I use? Our new report, "Mobile Coupons: Gold Rush or Fool's Gold?" addresses this question in more detail. This question was especially important in 2009 with the poor economy as consumers sought savings and deals.

Do consumers use mobile coupons today? A few do. Our surveys show that a few percent have at least trialed mobile coupons. There have been some usability issues - how to opt in to programs, download a coupon application, breadth of offers available - as well as demand. Heavy users of mobile coupons are not necessarily heavy users of mobile data services. My grandmother cuts more coupons than anyone else I know. She has a prepaid 100 minute per month voice plan. Will she ever use mobile coupons? Probably not. She turns 90 this summer. A lot could change in 10 years, but until her arthritis is so bad that she can use scissors, I think she'll still be clipping coupons from the newspaper. I see more opportunities in luring young mobile-savvy cell phone users into opting in for programs.

That said, I'm optimistic. The main reason ... every grocery store and many retailers that I know are using mobile coupons. Target launched a few weeks ago. Target takes providing an amazing guest experience very seriously. When you ask, "are mobile coupons ready for primetime?" Target adopting and rolling them out is a clear "yes" for a leading US brand. Safeway. Best Buy. Krogers. JC Penney. These are just a handful of the companies rolling out mobile coupons. With their marketing power and ability to drive awareness and motivate adoption, I expect we'll see a significant jump in adoption and usage this year.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Two Approaches to Making Cities Smarter, Part III

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

This post is the third in a three part series on Smart Cities. Best to start with Part I.

Two Approaches to Making Smart Cities

As with most things in life, there are a number of ways to approach smart cities. One way is to start from the ground up. A new city is born - a clean slate - to be made smart with the necessary infrastructure for its connected systems to communicate and collaborate to create an efficiently running city. A recent article in Fast Company, highlighted a number of smart cities projects that essentially started from the ground up - or, in one case, from the mud flats up. The most widely written about start-up city is Songdo. The concept was launched as a vision of the South Korean government and eventually, through the work of a real-estate developer and Cisco as the IT infrastructure provider, has become a reality - although the city is not expected to be complete until 2015. Songdo and other start-up cities have become one answer to the nagging concern about increasing urbanization.

Reconciling the rapid urbanization in China with the observation of one World Bank official that "Cities are expensive to retrofit and modify once they are built," start-up cities just might be one answer to China's urban needs.

China's "start-up" smart city: Meixi Lake

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