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Category: database

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The Internet of Things Has Arrived — Here’s How Your Company Can Succeed

 For success in a market that’s changing our everyday lives, you have to know how both sides of the Internet of Things must work together for users.

At its annual 2011 developer conference, Google announced it had developed [email protected]. The technology was designed to connect household appliances, making nearly everything in your home controllable by your smartphone. It made news — not because it was a new idea, but because it supported an old one: The Internet of Things was one step closer to becoming reality.

It turned out that Google’s initiative wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but it reinforced a desire people have had since the mid-20th century: smart devices that communicate with one another makes life easier.

This is the essence of the Internet of Things, and it’s quickly becoming reality. Just look at the success of Nest Labs and Amazon’s new shopping gadget, Dash. Some even say the future of machine-to-machine communication (M2M) is past due.

How to Succeed in the Internet of Things

The question then becomes how to ensure your company succeeds in this field. What does it take to become an integral part of a market that has the potential to change the way we live our day-to-day lives?

To even have a chance at success on the bleeding edge of connectivity, you need to know how M2M works and which components make up a successful consumer-facing product. There are essentially two sides to what we know as the Internet of Things: M2M and consumer.

M2M usually refers to the industrial side of machine communication, but it’s still essentially the term for machines — cars, washing machines, and refrigerators — that communicate with one another, usually on a network. The consumer side of the Internet of Things is what the everyday user will see and interact with.

For your product to be successful, these sides need to work together seamlessly to create a frictionless experience that users can adopt in their daily routines. Take Audi, for example. Rather than reinventing the wheel with its infotainment system, the car company chose to enhance the way people already live with technology, making it smarter, faster, and easier to use. As a result, Audi has won numerous awards and eased people into a new way of doing things.

The 5 Components of a Frictionless Connected Experience

To master this seamless experience, focus on these five components of a successful consumer-facing “smart” product.

1. The Hardware: The hardware you create must improve what’s already out there and make people’s lives easier. Before development, consider what type of data you’ll need to collect, how to communicate that data, and how to process it into usable information after it’s received. Whether your device will rely on Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or a cellular network, make sure the hardware will fulfill the requirements.

2. The Software: Once you have a good piece of hardware, the next step is making sure the consumer can use it. It doesn’t matter how great a device is; if it’s hard to use, it’s sure to fail. Consider how your software will integrate with remote devices and how users will interact with the front-end interface.

3. Connectivity: Good connectivity is essential for connecting to the Internet of Things. In the U.S., competing networks and standards can make it more difficult for a product to achieve success if it only supports one network. Creating a single portal with multiple options for connectivity can help ensure a painless and seamless user experience.

For consumer-facing devices, the faster, the better. LTE is winning out in America, but HSPA+ and even WiMAX have support in certain parts of the world. Depending on your needs, different network evolutions like LTE and technologies such as GSM and CDMA can be beneficial, but they aren’t necessarily required. The more you can do to support these various network possibilities, the more effective and accessible your solution can be.

4. Certification: This isn’t the sexiest part of product development, but whether it’s wireless certification from the PTCRB or a security certification, these procedures are essential when it comes to lending credibility to your product and ensuring that it’s standards-friendly.

5. The Business Model: This should be obvious, but developing the right business model is a critical step startups often neglect. Your product may be amazing, but if you can’t reach the price point you need or can’t figure out how to turn a profit, everything else becomes moot.

With each passing year, the Internet of Things inches closer to becoming reality. If you’re looking to break into this field or are struggling to find a profitable foothold, focusing on these key components can help you achieve success and contribute to a movement that could change the world.

 

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Keslow Camera Always Ready for “Action” with a Tablet Solution

Keslow Camera may not be a household name, but if you watch TV or go to the movies, you’ve seen our work. As one of the largest camera rental companies in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area, we have a long list of credits ranging from Lone Suvivor to Disney’s upcoming Tomorrowland, to popular television shows like Sleepy Hollow, Chicago Fire, Shameless, and many more.

Our success comes largely from a culture that always puts the customer first. This requires commitment, talent and very efficient business processes. That’s why Keslow Camera abandoned its old paper-based system for a custom FileMaker solution for iPad, iPhone, and Mac computers that we affectionately call Flawless. Today, the solution touches every aspect of our business, from managing contracts and bids to fulfilling orders, tracking equipment worldwide, invoicing, and forecasting sales.

After implementing Flawless, I’ve learned several ways to succeed with tablets.

  • Don’t get bogged down in paper: Instead of spending several minutes trying to locate an order or determine what’s in stock and what is already rented out, our team can now respond instantly to customers. This flexibility enables us to land important contracts with major media and entertainment companies.
  • Involve the entire staff: We now have over 50 employees across various offices around the U.S., all using Flawless running on Macs, iPads, iPod touches, and iPhones. The equipment puller, shipping & receiving team, and prep technicians all use iOS devices to accomplish their work.  Any time barcodes are being scanned in or out to build contracts; an iOS device comes into play.
  • Engage management: We’re using iPhones running Flawless remotely, either from home after hours or anytime we are out of the office to check availability of gear. This capability is especially handy throughout weekends when we get emergency calls.
  • Keep speed in mind: Production teams need to know in advance what equipment is available if they need additional gear shipped out. Flawless helps us submit bids faster than the competition so we are the first to respond to the customer.
  • Think paperless: We need to manage a large number of PDFs – purchase orders, contracts and invoices. With our custom solution, the company can maintain these documents externally to the solution in managed storage, while still being able to have instant access. 

Developer Scott Rose of ScottWorld developed Flawless. The database is hosted on a Mac Pro for easy access across Keslow Camera’s offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Santa Fe, and New Orleans. Managers and staff can tap into the information they need anytime, from anywhere, including via iPads and iPhones. The FileMaker Go app brings the full, rich application to Keslow’s iPad and iPhone users – it’s not just a slimmed-down version of the database.

Plus, unlike typical off-the-shelf software, it’s really easy to make updates and improvements to our solution, as our business grows – no waiting for months or years for new features. With our new solution, ScottWorld can constantly and quickly make improvements any time an employee has a good suggestion.

Keslow Camera is growing roughly 30 percent year over year, so having this kind of power and flexibility is essential. This blazing-fast solution, accessible to our staff nationwide, is really helping set us apart from our competition.

 

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How Relational Databases Could Ruin Christmas

As you know, a bad user experience on Cyber Monday can cause users to abandon an eCommerce site faster than during non-seasonal online shopping, resulting in massive revenue loss. The average revenue loss of just few hours shutdown during Cyber Monday can impact company yearly revenue by 10-15%.

 

With coupons scattered across the internet and increased overall demand on Cyber Monday, eCommerce websites have to automatically adapt and expand with such fluctuating customer’s behavior. Usually there is limited amount of products that have a special price during this sales period. The first ones that will manage to access the website will get the best deal.

 

Because most relational databases systems keep data in tables, there is a lock placed on inventory table raw that is in the process of updating. With typical average eCommerce website traffic, this isn’t an issue – but with too many requests at the same time, retail systems can face slow-downs or even a lack of ability to manage the requests due to this table lock behavior. On days like Cyber Monday, sudden, intensive loads create a situation where retailers’ traditional central database systems are burdened by a large number of simultaneous lock requests for the same inventory table raw (this is done in order to update the data with user activities).  This burden causes a delay in the backend database response time.  In some cases, such a load can bring down the database system and shut down the entire eCommerce system, preventing users from performing any transactions for several hours!

 

A redesign of inventory management offers, reservations, fulfillment, personalization, pricing and promotional components of eCommerce systems is needed to ensure website survival on Cyber-Monday. The system of record must be elastic , blazing fast, cannot rely on a database or any disk based storage medium, must be highly-available across multiple data centers or cloud environments and provide enterprise level security.

 

The GigaSpaces XAP in-memory compute product has been the system of record for many leading eCommerce systems around the world, delivering low-latency response time even on massive peak load. The legacy enterprise database is not part of the transaction path, which ensures ability to cope with millions of transactions per minute leveraging commodity inexpensive hardware.

 

GigaSpaces XAP integrates with leading eCommerce platforms such as Oracle ATG and IBM Portal/eCommerce platforms, allowing users to leverage their investment with the existing eCommerce platform. XAP can be easily integrated with these systems as a reliable and fast system of record that can deliver peace of mind to the IT and the retail executives during the peak load of Cyber Monday. This integration immediately delivers ROI and shorten the time to market when the eCommerce implementation is enhanced to support new products, offers or promotions.

 

Fortune 200 retailer eCommerce system achieves 70% revenue growth with GigaSpaces XAP

 

Challenge

 

For several years, this top retailer’s eCommerce website could not handle the exponential increase in traffic, slowing down the site response time dramatically at some points, and shutting it down altogether at another. Social marketing promotions and online coupons increased amount of simultaneous user sessions and catalog access caused resource contention and total system shutdown of the eCommerce system. This resulted in a multi-million financial loss of revenue during Cyber Monday.

 

Solution & results

 

After analyzing the problem, this top retailer integrated GigaSpaces XAP In-Memory Computing solution with its eCommerce system to manage all catalog, offers, promotions, and pricing data using a distributed, transactional data grid. This simple enhancement to the existing eCommerce system improved the overall performance and eliminated the database as a bottleneck for any eCommerce transactions. This new architecture delivers continuous improvements to supports 30% annual growth with the system capacity and 70% revenue growth for Cyber Monday. The eCommerce system now has significantly higher performance — Web performance increased by 500%.  The system is also now able to streamline and scale available inventory process, dynamic pricing, promotions processing and business analytics. This was all possible with less hardware infrastructure; the hardware required for Cyber Monday was reduced by 50%.

 

Businesses need to think about traffic timing differently on one of the busiest days of the year. This is just one solution to a behind-the-scenes problem that should be addressed.

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Why Redis is a Great Tool For New Applications and Startups

While it has been proven time and time again that open source databases and technology are ideal for startups and application developers due, in large, to the potentially unlimited contributors that aid in perfecting the code, when it comes time to choose a database within that open source software, what makes one stand out over the other?

 

Yiftach Shoolman, CTO of Garantia Data, which is the provider of enterprise-class Redis Cloud and Memcached Cloud services, has provided some insight on the NoSQL, open source database, Redis, and why it stands out as a great tool for new applications and startups.

 

Open source Redis is one of the top three databases used by new applications today. According to a survey of database users by 451 Research, Redis adoption is projected to increase from 11.3 percent to 15.9 percent in 2015. It is clear that Redis is taking off as a leading in-memory database solution, but what is it, exactly, that makes Redis so attractive to startups and application developers alike?

 

Redis’ popularity is due, largely, to its combination of high-performance, attractive data types, and commands that simplify application development. As new companies and applications emerge, they demand scalable high-performance databases to keep up with the exponential growth of their data.

 

Redis’ unique characteristics have resulted in tremendous adoption rates—making it a database of choice for many leading companies. For example, Pinterest uses Redis for the “follower graph,” which is a breakdown of who is following whom and Twitter uses Redis for its home timeline. Redis is especially well suited to new companies and applications for several key reasons.

 

Top performance

 

Redis is entirely served from RAM, which makes it faster than any other datastore (most of which are served from disk) by an order of magnitude. Furthermore, it has a simple, single-process, event-driven design, meaning it does not have to deal with lock mechanisms like other databases do, which hinder performance for many applications. The diagram below presents benchmark tests carried out for several leading databases.

 

Benchmark tests showing the fastest data store systems available today

Benchmark tests showing the fastest data store systems available today

 

Simplified application development

 

Developing new applications with Redis is way simpler, more intuitive and faster than other databases, including MySQL. Redis has a rich set of data structures, which are very similar to those of today’s high level programming languages that are increasingly used by application developers. The code used to build the data structures of Redis, like sets, lists, sorted lists, etc., allows users to perform really complex tasks very easily. It also offers transactions that allow users to plan multiple commands, making it thread-safe.

 

Conclusion

 

With Redis, developers do far less damage to the concepts of their programs, resulting in faster development, improved code quality and more beautiful code. This, combined with its top performance, it’s no wonder why Redis’ popularity is soaring.

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