Big Ideas

Zero-Latency Business Intelligence?

High-performance hardware can deliver insight at the speed of business.

by Satyendra Kumar Pasalapudi

ACE, November 2014

To be competitive, today’s enterprise leaders need information about business operations as they occur. They need real-time business intelligence (RTBI) systems, which minimize the latencies between the business event happening and a corrective action or notification being initiated. Oracle engineered systems provide the high performance necessary to drive latency out of the process and enable RTBI.


All business intelligence (BI) systems have some latency. In his research paper “The BI Watch: Real-Time to Real Value,” Richard Hackathorn, founder and president of consulting firm Bolder Technologies, describes three types of latency: data latency, the time taken to collect and store the data; analysis latency, the time taken to analyze the data and turn it into actionable information; and action latency, the time taken to react to the information and take action.

The goal is to minimize these latencies so that executives can make a decision with the most valid and up-to-date information available. For example, if a business executive needs to make a sales decision, a traditional BI solution would take a number of days to return that information, causing the decision to be based on old data. An RTBI system would return the most up-to-date data possible, allowing the executive to make the decision based on more accurate and relevant information.

To achieve RTBI, businesses need an IT infrastructure that can load and transfer data faster with zero latency, process the data faster with parallel processing capability, and provide instant visuals for in-depth analysis. Oracle engineered systems provide the features necessary to enable these capabilities. Here are some highlights:

Faster data loading. Oracle engineered systems use near-zero-latency InfiniBand, a computer network communications link featuring very high processing rates. Network fabric connectivity within and across these engineered systems makes it possible to load and process data faster, virtually eliminating data latency.

Real-time integration. Integration between layers of the stack decreases and even eliminates data and analysis latencies. For example, Oracle Data Integrator’s Change Data Capture feature enables the transfer of only changed data from the operational data store to the target systems. And Oracle GoldenGate offers real-time data integration, transactional data replication, and data comparison across heterogeneous systems. Used together, these solutions greatly decrease data transfer times associated with disparate hardware and software systems.

Businesses need an IT infrastructure that can load and transfer data faster with zero latency, process the data faster with parallel processing capability, and provide instant visuals for in-depth analysis.”

Smart features. Oracle’s engineered systems include “smart” features that reduce latencies in query processing. With Oracle Exadata’s Exadata Smart Scan feature, for example, query processing is done in the storage cell. These cells can search storage disks with added intelligence about the query and send the relevant output to the database nodes. In this way, the query processing is close to the data layer, reducing the time it takes to transfer data between the database and storage tiers. In Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, the Summary Advisor uses recommended in-memory aggregates to enable short, consistent response times when querying large amounts of data.

This all adds up to business results. For example, a multinational financial services company migrated to Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalytics to address performance challenges during financial close. Oracle turned a traditional reporting system into an RTBI system by implementing Oracle GoldenGate and Oracle Data Integrator on engineered systems. As a result, the financial close process was reduced from days to hours without affecting performance, and the RTBI system is in place for better decision-making.

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