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Interview with Iran Hutchinson, Globals.

by Roberto V. Zicari on June 13, 2011

“ The newly launched Globals initiative is not about creating a new database.
It is however, about exposing the core multi-dimensional arrays directly to developers.” — Iran Hutchinson.


InterSystems recently launched a new initiative: Globals.
I wanted to know more about Globals. I have therefore interviewed Iran Hutchinson, software/systems architect at InterSystems and one of the people behind the Globals project.


Q1. InterSystems recently launched a new database product: Globals. Why a new database? What is Globals?

Iran Hutchinson: InterSystems has continually provided innovative database technology to its technology partners for over 30 years. Understanding customer needs to build rich, high-performance, and scalable applications resulted
in a database implementation with a proven track record. The core of the database technology is multi-dimensional arrays (aka globals).
The newly launched Globals initiative is not about creating a new database. It is however, about exposing the core multi-dimensional arrays directly to developers. By closely integrating access into development technologies like Java and JavaScript, developers can take full advantage of high-performance access to our core database components.

We undertook this project to build much broader awareness of the technology that lies at the heart of all of our products. In doing so, we hope to build a thriving developer community conversant in the Globals technology, and aware of the benefits to this approach of building applications.

Q2. You classify Globals as a NoSQL-database. Is this correct? What are the differences and similarities of Globals with respect to other NoSQL databases in the market?

Iran Hutchinson: While Globals can be classified as a NoSQL database, it goes beyond the definition of other NoSQL databases. As you there are many different offerings in NoSQL and no key comparison matrices or feature lists. Below we list some comparisons and differences with hopes of later expanding the available information on the website.

Globals differs from other NoSQL databases in a number of ways.

o It is not limited to one of the known paradigms in NoSQL (Column/Wide Column, Key-Value, Graph, Document, etc.). You can build your own paradigm on top of the core engine. This is an approach we took as we evolved Caché to support objects, xml, and relational, to name a few.
o Globals still offers optional transactions and locking. Though efficient in implementation we wanted to make sure that locking and transactions were at the discretion of the developer.
o MVCC is built into the database.
o Globals runs in-memory and writes data to disk.
o There is currently no sharding or replication available in Globals. We are discussing options for these features.
o Globals builds on the over 33 years of success of Caché. It is well proven. It is the exact same database technology. Globals will continue to evolve, and receive the innovations going into the core of Caché.
o Our goal with Globals is be a very good steward of the project and technology. The Globals initiative will also start to drive contests and events to further promote adoption of the technology, as well as innovative approaches to building applications. We see this stewardship as a key differentiator, along with the underlying flexible core technology.

• Globals shares similar traits with other NoSQL databases in the market.

o It is free for development and deployment.
o The data model can optionally use a schema. We mitigate the impact of using schemas by using the same infrastructure we use to store the data. The schema information and the data are both stored in globals.
o Developers can index their data.
o The document paradigm enabled by the Globals Document Store (GDS) API enables a query language for data stored using the GDS API. GDS is also an example of how to build a storage paradigm in Globals. Globals APIs are open source and available on the github link.
o Globals is fast and efficient at storing data. We know performance is one of many hallmarks of NoSQL. Globals can store data at rates exceeding 100,000 objects/records per second.
o Different technology APIs are available for use with Globals. We’ve released 2 Java APIs and the JavaScript API is immanent.

Q3. How do you position Globals with respect to Caché? Who should use Globals and who should use Caché?

Iran Hutchinson: Today, Globals offers multi-dimensional array storage, whereas Caché offers a much richer set of features. Caché (and the InterSystems technology it powers including Ensemble, DeepSee, HealthShare, and TrakCare) offers a core underlying object technology, native web services, distributed communication via ECP (Enterprise Cache Protocol), strategies for high availability, interactive development environment, industry standard data access (JDBC, ODBC, SQL, XML, etc.) and a host of other enterprise ready features.

Anyone can use Globals or Caché to tackle challenges with large data volumes (terabytes, petabytes, etc.), high transactions (100,000+ per second), and complex data (healthcare, financial, aerospace, etc.). However, Caché provides much of the needed out-of-box tooling and technology to get started rapidly building solutions in our core technology, as well as a variety of languages. Currently provided as Java APIs, Globals is a toolkit to build the infrastructure already provided by Caché. Use Caché if you want to get started today; use Globals if you have a keen interest in building the infrastructure of your data management system.

Q4. Globals offers multi-dimensional array storage. Can you please briefly explain this feature, and how this can be beneficial for developers?

Iran Hutchinson: It is beneficial to go here. I grabbed the following paragraphs directly from this page:

Summary Definition: A global is a persistent sparse multi-dimensional array, which consists of one or more storage elements or “nodes”. Each node is identified by a node reference (which is, essentially, its logical address). Each node consists of a name (the name of the global to which this node belongs) and zero or more subscripts.

Subscripts may be of any of the types String, int, long, or double. Subscripts of any of these types can be mixed among the nodes of the same global, at the same or different levels.

Benefits for developers: Globals does not limit developers to using objects, key-value, or any other type of storage paradigm. Developers are free to think of the optimal storage paradigm for what they are working on. With this flexibility, and the history of successful applications powered by globals, we think developers can begin building applications with confidence.

Q5. Globals does not include Objects. Is it possible to use Globals if my data is made of Java objects? If yes, how?

Iran Hutchinson:. Globals exposes a multi-dimensional sparse array directly to Java and other languages. While Globals itself does not include direct Java object storage technology like JPA or JDO, one can easily store and retrieve data in Java objects using the APIs documented here. Anyone can also extend Globals to support popular Java object storage and retrieval interfaces.

One of the core concepts in Globals is that it is not limited to a paradigm, like objects, but can be used in many paradigms. As an example, the new GDS (Globals Document Store) API enables developers to use the NoSQL document paradigm to store their objects in Globals. GDS is available here (more docs to come).

Q6. Is Globals open source?

Iran Hutchinson: Globals itself it not open source. However, the Globals APIs hosted at the github location are open source.

Q7. Do you plan to create a Globals Community? And if yes, what will you offer to the community and what do you expect back from the community?

Iran Hutchinson: We created a community for Globals from the beginning. One of the main goals of the Globals initiative is to create a thriving community around the technology, and applications built on the technology.
We offer the community:
• Proven core data management technology
• An enthusiastic technology partner that will continue to evolve and support project ◦ Marketing the project globally
◦ Continual underlying technology evolution ◦ Involvement in the forums and open source technology development ◦ Participation in or hosting events and contests around Globals.
• A venue to not only express ideas, but take a direct role in bringing those ideas to life in technology
• For those who want to build a business around Globals, 30+ years of experience in supplying software developers with the technology to build successful breakthrough applications.


Iran Hutchinson serves as product manager and software/systems architect at InterSystems. He is one of the people behind the Globals project. He has held architecture and development positions at startups and Fortune 50 companies. He focuses on language platforms, data management technologies, distributed/cloud computing, and high performance computing. When not on trail talking with fellow geeks or behind the computer you can find him eating (just look for the nearest steak house).


Globals is a free database from InterSystem. Globals offer multi-dimensional storage. The first version is for Java. Software | Intermediate | English | LINK | May 2011

Globals APIs
Globals APIs are open source available at github location .

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