Running the cloud from memory

A cloud vendor describes its unified architecture that gets around the latency of disks and stovepiped servers.

"Building enterprise applications is not for the faint-hearted."

Photo credit: Joe McKendrick

Indeed. That's the view of Annrai O'Toole, chief technology officer, Europe, at Workday, who explains in a new post how his company is delivering cloud services from a single in-memory environment, which are thus unencumbered by the latency issues associated with pulling data and applications from multiple servers and storage devices.

Many enterprises and vendors have integrated architectures, based on "running many different servers and databases alongside some middleware that ties the whole thing together." For example, O'Toole continues, "an ERP system implemented on-premise for an enterprise may have 20 to 30 separate servers and databases" -- requiring staffing. "Keeping 20 or 30 complex servers on the same patch version of different OSes and databases is a task involving a small army of IT professionals. This is the opposite of the current anti-fragile thinking."

Workday's approach, on the other hand, is to run all services from a single, in-memory version of the entire application logic and data, O'Toole explains. This is still built on servers that perform individual tasks, but pertinent applications and information all run within memory, free of disks. The result is a "unified customer experience," O'Toole relates.

As a result, services run faster, and "analytics operate on the live data, not a batch uploaded, out-of-date version. There is just one unified security model."

Will other cloud vendors and enterprises themselves follow suit?

O'Toole knows something about architecture. He was co-founder of Cape Clear, a web services integration vendor, which was acquired by Workday in 2008.