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InterSystems’ New Directions in Databases/Development: Usefully Different
10/14/2010

There are certain vendors of infrastructure software who deliver long-term value-add to their customers by walking the narrow line between the innovative and the proprietary exceptionally well. Over its long history, InterSystems has parlayed an innovative database that could be fully integrated into existing data centers into an innovative middleware suite that could be fully integrated into existing data architectures, and then into innovative health care applications that could be fully integrated into existing health care systems and networks, delivering value-add at every step. Now, InterSystems has announced a new generation of its database/development platform, Caché 2010, with Caché Database Mirroring and Caché eXtreme for Java. Surprise, surprise: the new features are innovative, integrated out of the box with existing IT strategies and systems, and very useful.

InterSystems has long been known as the vendor of Caché, a “post-relational” object database that has proven its E-business prowess in real-world business-critical situations such as health care applications.  Caché combines object, multidimensional, and SQL technologies to handle content-heavy OLTP, decision support, and “mixed” transaction streams effectively.  More recently, InterSystems has also become known as the supplier of Ensemble, a Caché-based integration and development platform that allows access to a wide array of data types, plus data transmission from application to application, especially as part of business process integration.  InterSystems has a position of strength in the health care market, with widespread Caché use by best-practices hospitals and labs.

Caché Database Mirroring

Due to a recent TCO study, I have become aware of just how expensive maintaining two or three redundant data centers for full global active/active rapid-recovery can be. As I understand it, Caché provides reduces costs by increasing the flexibility of replication of Caché data. Specifically, Caché Database Mirroring allows “warm” (not completely up to date) mirroring in certain circumstances, and “logical” (which some might call “virtual”) replication that does not have to be to a physically separate or remote system. The resulting decrease in load on both ends of a mirroring process, as well as the automation of Caché Database Mirroring deployment and operation, lowers contention for shared resources by the replication process and allows use of inexpensive PC servers and the like instead of expensive, dedicated Storage Area Network software and systems.

Caché eXtreme for Java

As CEP use increases, it has become clear that “contextual” data able to be accessed in “near real time” is needed to scale these solutions. While Caché users have found it particularly effective in accessing the object-type and XML data that CEP engines typically process, due to its object support and strong performance, the lingua franca of such engines is often Java, for better or worse. Caché eXtreme for Java provides direct access to Caché operations and data stores from Java, enabling this large class of developers to rapidly develop more scalable CEP applications.

Conclusions

Where similar infrastructure software companies have faltered or been acquired in the recent deep recession, Intersystems appears to be continuing to strike out in new directions. Some of that may come from the relative resilience of the health care market that was once its historical strength. However, it seems clear that much of its success comes from continuing to deliver “innovation with a difference” that fits with customer environments and also adds immediately useful features improving the customer’s cost effectiveness and flexibility.

Also notable is that these improvements involve both new and old products. Intersystems has been smart not to treat Caché like a cash cow, as the market’s focus switched to Internet middleware these last few years – other vendors seem to have fallen into that trap, and may be paying the price.

 

The new announcements, as ever, make Intersystems worth the IT buyer’s close attention, and especially in such areas as CEP and development.

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Wayne Kernochan