Top three database management trends: What’s next for Aerospike in 2024

Gain professional insights from Aerospike’s Lenley Hensarling on the top three market trends in 2024 that are crucial for Aerospike partners to know.

Alex Patino
Alex Patino
Marketing Manager
March 15, 2024|6 min read

Lenley Hensarling likes to compare the software industry to fly fishing.

“You get out there, and you have to talk to a lot of customers, you have to try a lot of things, and you have to be tenacious, and you have to pay attention,” Lenley Hensarling, Aerospike’s chief product officer, told Jeff Ballard on the Aerospike Altitudes partner podcast. “For that kind of fishing, you’re always looking at the currents of the river. You’re trying to figure out where fish will hold, and you have to understand hydraulics, and you have to be able to cast and keep casting well and consistently over and over and over and over again. And I think that’s good training for business.”

But to do that, you’ve got to know where the fish are going. So where are the Aerospike fish going these days?

Vector databases are on the rise

While artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) have been growing steadily for the past ten years, interest in them took a big jump in the past year with the advent of easy access to large language models (LLMs) and generative AI such as ChatGPT. And with that, there’s been a big upswing in interest in vector databases, Hensarling said.

Vectors are not just a single column of data that you can apply, but they’re multidimensional vectors,” Hensarling explained. “Think matrices that are in dimension, and that’s a new data type, if you will. We have work going on right now around building a proximity search capability and the ability to ingest many more of these vectors in a given time span and to be able to search on them and to provide the information from them in a time-bound service level agreement (SLA), and do that better than anybody else.”

Vectors offer other benefits, such as being able to correct LLMs and keep them from hallucinating, so to speak, and in general being able to add more context that’s specific to user businesses, which helps AI systems provide more specific benefits, Hensarling said.

“What are the semantics around your products? How does that match up with what a given customer wants?” Hensarling said. “You have a context for a customer coming to your site, you have a context of all the things you have available, and we’ve got a richer model now to match that up with the desires of the customer and the cohort groups they’re in, and how we segment that. It really changes the game.”

That’s where Aerospike partners play a critical role. Vendors are going to be hosting specialized data sets and specialized LLMs for given use cases, and users are going to need help sorting that out and deploying it, and then applying retrieval augmented generation (RAG) to that to make sure that they have the context unique to their business, Hensarling explained.

“But there’s going to be a lot of consulting around ‘How do I make those choices,’ and what problems are the first ones that I can get the biggest return from?” Hensarling said. “Our partners are going to be looking to us to be able to supply that real-time application of the additional context, and they’re going to have to understand a really broad new set of capabilities that are out there. It’s like new toys, but what do you do with them?”

Demand for real-time transactions is only getting stronger

Plus, all of this needs to be done in near-real time to meet user needs on a global basis, Hensarling said.

“That’s one of the things that’s holding back from really getting to the value that exists from LLMs,” Hensarling said. “You want to be able to apply these things in decisioning and inferencing, and you want to be able to do it in some definition of real time. It might not be 20 milliseconds; it might be 80 milliseconds when you’re dealing with this proximity search, but you have to be able to do that with high throughput. So, when you have 100,000 customers coming to your website all at once, can you still perform within those parameters?”

Users have gotten accustomed to this instant response for their personal purchases, and that’s expanding into B2B in a big way, Hensarling said. “Even for purchases for large businesses or renewal in your supply chain, people expect it to be instantaneously available and available with a context that understands global,” he said. “We can have transactions happen across the globe simultaneously. And when we say real-time, there is no sub-millisecond, but it’s 100 milliseconds or 150 milliseconds.”

That’s really fast.

But that’s the kind of speed required for use cases such as financial services and retail, Hensarling said. “We’ve been trying to catch up with the current state of things forever in the IT business,” he said. “We’d know at the end of the quarter what the inventory was. And then it was like, ‘Hey, we can know it monthly,’ and then can we know it weekly, and then daily, and then hourly. And now the demand is to know it right now.”

Sustainability and cost-efficient infrastructure

At the same time, users want to do this in a sustainable way that uses computing resources efficiently, reduces operational expenses, and helps them be better global citizens.

“Everything has a cost, and one of the things that we bring to the table is that we’re incredibly efficient,” Hensarling said. “We can do more with less computing power. We can store more on a given node, and those things have a real return, financially.”

For example, one customer, Criteo in France, was actually able to close a data center by switching to Aerospike. “They’ve gone from thousands of nodes to hundreds of nodes, and that’s allowed them to get real savings,” Hensarling said.

That’s not just a financial benefit but a sustainability benefit as well. “They’re actually more able to comply with the demands to be greener, to be conscious of energy usage, and be mindful that you can accomplish more while doing that,” Hensarling said.

That focus on efficiency and sustainability is new, Hensarling said. “There’s been a change in the financial reward system,” he said. “It was growth at all costs, and people were just throwing hardware at things and trying many, many different ways to do things. And now they’re focused on, ‘How do I get my margins up?’ That focus is something we win deals on. Our partners need to be able to talk that talk.”