As a global IT leader, Dell manufactures some of the world’s most innovative hardware and software solutions. It also manages one of the most successful e-commerce sites. In 2013, the company facilitated billions in online sales. On a typical day, 10,000 people are browsing Dell.com at the same time. During peak online shopping periods, the number of concurrent shoppers can increase 100 times, to as many as one million people.
To help facilitate fast, frustration-free shopping despite traffic spikes, Dell has distributed the website’s online transaction processing (OLTP) load between 2,000 virtual machines, which include 27 mission-critical databases that run on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software and the Windows Server 2012 operating system. These databases, along with hundreds of web applications, are supported by Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell Compellent storage, and Dell Networking switches.
When Dell learned about SQL Server 2014 and its in-memory capabilities, the company immediately signed up to be an early adopter. Not only are memory-optimized tables in SQL Server 2014 lock-free—making it possible for numerous applications to simultaneously access and write to the same database rows—but also the solution is based on the technologies that IT staff already know how to use.
Initially, engineers set up the database tables to be fully durable, meaning that the table replicas are synchronous copies. However, developers can also configure the tables to use delayed durability, which means that changes made to a table’s replica are delayed slightly to minimize any impact on performance.
By gaining the option to store tables in memory, Dell is achieving unprecedented OLTP speeds. “The performance increase we realize with In-Memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014 is astounding!” says Scott Hilleque, Design Architect at Dell. “After just a few hours of work, groups sped database performance by as much as nine times. And all aspects of our In-Memory OLTP experience has been seamless for our staff because it is so easy to adopt, and its implementation produces zero friction for architects, developers, database administrators, and operations staff.”
Although Dell is in the very early stages of adopting SQL Server 2014, IT workers are excited by the impact of In-Memory OLTP. The more the IT team can speed database performance, the faster web applications can get the information that they need to deliver a responsive and customized browsing experience for customers. Reinaldo Kibel, Database Strategist at Dell summarizes that “In-Memory OLTP in SQL Server 2014 really signifies a new mindset in database development because with it, we no longer have to deal with the performance hits caused by database locks—and this is just one of the amazing benefits of this solution.”
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