QuickBase: Why RAM MattersPosted: August 7, 2009
I first stumbled onto QuickBase more than five years ago as a Sourcing Manager at American Greetings. I was looking for a better way to collaborate with the Product Managers than sending a barrage of cost requests to my buying team. My first app, the RFQ Manager, was an instant hit. In fact, the Product Manager I tested it on liked it so much I did not even need to ask the other PM’s to start using the tool, they were asking me where to sign up. It wasn’t long before I was literally touting QuickBase as “the best thing since sliced bread,” but it would take five long years, hundreds of developed applications and a deep search of the PaaS marketplace before I really understood what makes QuickBase special.
With so much time behind the wheel of QuickBase, it seemed that the almost instant access and reportability of entire datasets linked across multiple applications, all updated virtually in real time was something to be assumed. Last winter, our MCF leadership team spent several days with QuickBase and talked a lot about what’s under the hood, namely the use of a RAM/in-memory database. However, at the time I did not fully grasp the meaning until I explored other PaaS and SaaS offerings and realized that few if none were delivering the kind of data experience that QuickBase could provide.
In-memory databases (IMDB) store information in the RAM memory of a CPU whereas main-memory databases (MMDB) store data on disk space. IMDB storage is not-persistent, meaning that when the power is turned off the data is lost but accessing the information is must faster and requires fewer computations. It’s basically equivalent to the RAM on your PC where the information is stored for running applications that need fast access to the data. This model is often used in applications where access speed is essential such as 9-1-1 response systems and telecommunications.
What this means for QuickBase end-users is that the accessibility of the data, the computational capability, is optimized for speed. To translate this into terms that may be more familiar, imagine a totally different setup for your PC where instead of 1 or 2 GB of RAM and a huge hard drive, you really only use your hard-drive as back-up and your PC with 200 GB of RAM is never turned off. This means that every file and application is almost instantly accessible, there’s no booting up and no time loading applications because everything is always loaded in memory.
With all this in mind, it is clear why QuickBase provides world class collaboration, access and reporting for work groups, teams, smaller businesses, project managers, etc. It’s important when choosing where and how to deploy QuickBase to consider the use and underlying data needs, as some requirements are not ideal for IMDB due to dataset size and require the larger and cheaper data storage solutions. Fortunately, integrating with QuickBase is straight forward, allowing it to serve as the application for working data and with transactional or unnecessary data archived or purged.