How to Build Real-Time Dashboards at Scale

Floyd Smith

With a real-time dashboard, you can stop problems before they start and seize opportunities that your competition is not aware of yet. MemSQL is a tool uniquely capable of powering real-time dashboards. In this blog post, we give some high points – but to get all the details, you should view our recorded webinar and download the PowerPoint slides here.

A doctor can get a good idea of your health just by shining a light in your eyes and seeing if they’re clear or cloudy. Similarly, a business that’s running well, with capable networks and up-to-date data, can run their business smoothly off a real-time dashboard.

Until recently, the database technology that was designed to power real-time dashboards has often proven inadequate to handle the task – especially when operating at enterprise scale. But it’s at the enterprise level that you really need the simplicity and clarity that a dashboard can bring.

Luckily, with MemSQL, you can cut through the fog. You can ingest, process, and drive analytics from current data, allowing you to keep your business up-to-date in real time.

In the webinar, Alec Powell and Alexia Smith of MemSQL take you through the use of dashboards with MemSQL. Not only why the dashboard itself is useful, but how MemSQL makes it rich and interactive with real-time responsiveness.

Why Dashboards Matter

Dashboards serve two main functions: alerting and responding.

With a real-time dashboard, the numbers that matter most are continuously in your face. For an e-commerce business, are sales at the level they should be? Is your website responsive to customers?

For a parts supplier, are the trains running on time? That is, the ships and trains bringing in raw materials in bulk – and the trains, planes, and automobiles that carry finished goods to market.

Real-time dashboards have both display and query capability.
Real-time dashboards both show the latest data and tell what’s happening behind it.

A well-crafted dashboard can tell you whether your business is working the way it should. Just as importantly, it can support you in drilling down on the data.

How does order flow – or raw materials coming in across the loading dock – compare to a year ago? A month ago? The same day last week? When the dashboard shows you trouble, query support helps you drill down and find out whether you really have a problem – or an opportunity.

It may sound challenging to develop and deliver a tool like this, and it is. But, until recently, many larger organizations have found that real-time dashboard capability is an impossible dream.

That’s because large organizations that use legacy databases can’t get recent data in fast enough. One database handles transactions; there’s an ETL (extract, transform, and load) process; and another handles analytics.

Often, one database or both are overloaded. The analytics capability, in particular, is often oversubscribed. So the real-time data needed to drive a dashboard simply can’t be accessed in a timely manner.

In the webinar, the hosts talk about how real-time dashboards help businesses raise their data-driven decision-making game. Customers are able to deliver data when they need it, with continuous feeds, without impacting query performance associated with interactive dashboards. A proper real-time dashboard must deliver the best of both worlds, which is live operational data that is also responsive and interactive.

MemSQL to the Rescue

MemSQL is unique because it’s the leading relational database that has built-in SQL support. As such, you can handle transactions and analytics in a single database. No cumbersome ETL process separates the two. Processing times for the latest data go from days and hours to minutes and seconds.

Use MemSQL to combine transactions and analytics in a translytical database.
MemSQL serves as the central database connecting data inputs </ br> to analytics and queries.

This is exactly what’s needed to power a real-time dashboard: the latest data, available now. MemSQL’s unique architecture enables a real-time dashboard design that can ingest, process, and make available the hundreds of megabytes and terabytes of data that are needed to run a modern enterprise effectively.

How MemSQL Powers Real-Time Dashboards for Pandora

Pandora is a great example of the importance of real-time dashboards. The latest, greatest, and most popular songs are the stock in trade of a business like Pandora. The hits list must literally be up to the minute. And it must then be mapped against the predilections of each and every visitor to the site.

With MemSQL, Pandora is able to update their offering many times a day. Customers get better songlists and higher engagement with the service.

As a database that works in-memory or memory-led, MemSQL powers Pandora in real time.
Pandora uses MemSQL to power real-time data and analytics flows.

The development and operations staff like MemSQL too. With MemSQL, they have standard ANSI SQL, which analysts and executives – and their business intelligence (BI) tools – know and love. But MemSQL operates fast, at any needed scale, unlike most other relational databases.

Not only customer choices, but ad and clickstream data flows through the business seamlessly. Advertisers have the information they need to make smart ad buying decisions. The business has endless choices as to what data they want to see and instant feedback on what works.

For More Information

The highlights in this blog post may give you a flavor, but you can learn much more by viewing the webinar and downloading the slides, here. You may then want to consider trying the free tier of MemSQL.

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Webinar
An Introduction to MemSQL
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