By Shane Johnson, Senior Director of Product Marketing at MariaDB Displaying a day’s flights is a transaction. Displaying them with…

By Shane Johnson, Senior Director of Product Marketing at MariaDB

Displaying a day’s flights is a transaction. Displaying them with their likelihood of an on-time departure is a smart transaction. At their core, these are the standard transactions that databases have been performing for decades – ultimately powering the online interactions we’ve become accustomed to.

Today, customer expectations for modern applications have grown a vast amount, and to be met, databases must be robust and enable access to large amounts of data in real-time. To drive better customer service, they must go one step further and generate insights that leverage historical data and records.

No longer is it enough for databases to power a product recommendation. It is now expected that these recommendations are driven by sophisticated insights, such as cross referencing previous purchases with current products that have had their prices dropped.

Smart transactions enrich the customer experience by converging transactional and analytical formatted data sets to enable real-time analytics before, during and/or after online transactions.

‘Dumb’ Transactions

A smart transaction, though given many different names, is an ability to combine transactional and analytical queries. The result of extending traditional transactions with analytical queries and interweaving them is the creation of a better end-to-end experience for the customer.

It is perhaps easier to understand the power of smart transactions by first looking to the alternative: ‘dumb’ or ‘standard’ transactions. When we go online to make purchases, we are engaging in standard transactions. In its simplest form, this might be searching for a certain product or service, and buying the first option presented to us.

When you add analytical capabilities, more data is taken into account to produce recommendations based on customer behaviours. When looking to purchase a product or service, leveraging vast amounts of additional data allows the supplier to present specific options that are, for example, the most popular for other shoppers of the same demographic.

This can be taken even further to enable the notification of customers of current sales, low stock, and even to present products when the buyer is likely to be running low. In effect, using smart transactions allows customers to put in significantly less legwork to get the best deal and complete their transaction.

Efficiency is a key and indispensable advantage to using smart transactions that benefits both customer and buyer, in as close to real time as we can get. Customer demands have been on the rise since the internet has become more prominent in our lives; the ultimate goal is efficiency – we now expect more, faster.

The Market

The concept of smart transactions has perplexed database providers for some time, with limited proprietary offerings surfacing in recent years. The market has been slow to take off due to the expensive nature of the service; to scale both transactions and analytics in a distributed manner without multi-million dollar hardware appliances has proved difficult until recently


The market has evolved to a point where companies with transactional workloads have consistently found it difficult to add analytics to these transactional workloads. However, this capability has recently broken through in open-source technologies, opening up a world of possibilities for developers and companies of all sizes, bringing an enhanced customer experience to millions of people globally. The open-source offering is revolutionary, enabling developers all over the world to build applications with transactions that are augmented with analytics, without incurring extortionate costs.

The potential of the market has not escaped experts in the field. According to research from 451 Research, now a part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, hybrid workloads accounted for 15.7% of total incremental database revenue in 2018 and is estimated tol account for 26.9% (a CAGR of 13%) of incremental database revenue in 2022.

The potential of the market grows even further when accounting for the general availability of open-source software and the continued increase in customer demands for better service.

Future-proofing Modern Applications

The future will see the use of smart transactions ingrained in everyday life, with criteria for building modern applications starting with the preliminary need for more responsiveness and a better customer experience.

For companies looking to grow their businesses and keep their customers happy while doing so, starting out with standard transactional processes is no longer a limitation. With cloud-native open source software, adding analytics at a later date is now easy and cost effective. There is no need for the re-architecting of databases where analytic workload applications are ready for use out-the-box, and this creates exciting possibilities for a future business environment where companies are able to be more versatile and adaptable.

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