5 Lessons Learned from the Most Connected Country in the World


Flexibility, maturity, stability…Learn and Grow:

In the modern world economy, your business is defined by how quickly, expertly, and efficiently it can serve its clients. With the rapid development of both the hardware and software aspects of smart technology, being able to transmit more data—faster—is of paramount importance for governments and corporations worldwide.

In other words, a modern business is defined by how it manages its data. Many different kinds of Database Management Systems (DBMS) have been created, but ALTIBASE HDB has the most flexible, mature and efficient in-memory database management system yet. ALTIBASE HDB uses its Hybrid architecture to combine the extreme speed of an In-Memory Database with the storage capacity of an On-Disk Database in a single unified engine. Among the features of this solution are real-time access, analysis, and high volume data distribution for mission critical environments. ALTIBASE XDB is a pure In-Memory database that utilizes proprietary algorithms and Direct Access Mode, making it the fastest database in the world.

Because the world is now run with databases, the difference between your business becoming an industry leader or an also-ran competitor is the ability to understand, analyze, and respond to your data in real-time, with zero lag in processing ability.

The US, along with the rest of the world, has experienced an explosive data load increase and related data management strains in the last five years, and as Altibase answers the rapidly growing global demand for a real-time, high-storage, high-performance data processing solution, it relies on lessons learned from developing and thriving in the most connected country in the world—South Korea.

This white paper will explain how South Korea grew from its debilitating, post-war beginnings to become the 15 largest GDP in the world today. The paper further highlights how South Korea is the most connected country on the planet—as well as one of the most technologically advanced—and how Altibase is utilizing the same strategies to revolutionize the global database landscape.

Lesson One: Gain the Experience from the Ground Up, like South Korea after the Korean War

Starting from the Bottom

After the Korean War, both Koreas, north and south, were in a low place: Rice, which had long been a staple of their diets, was considered a luxury, and many villages in rural areas survived on gruel consisting of barley, which was easier to grow. Meat was completely out of the question and was only sparsely available on special occasions.

As the decades progressed to the 1970s, South Koreans were in a worse financial and economic condition than their northern neighbors. While North Korea benefited from their Communist allegiance and allies, South Korea depended heavily on foreign aid, mostly from the US, including military and economic aid.

Only 15 years ago, a financial crisis in Asia threatened to bring down South Korea’s economy and banking system. The country was vulnerable in part because the “chaebols”—large Korean family-controlled corporate groups owning numerous international enterprises—were considered too big to fail.

Regrouping, Reevaluating, Resourcing

The country was able to achieve this by using any resources it had—both internal and external—to pull itself out of debt and ruin. While South Korea accepted $47 billion in emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), four chaebols which were deemed wasteful were dismantled, while other major corporations, like Samsung, were restructured. These shifts resulted in a leaner, tougher economy more suited to take on the modern world and lead the way in innovation.

Today, South Korea is the only nation in history that has transformed itself from major recipient of foreign aid to major donor and although its population is 2/5ths the size of Japan’s, 1/26th the size of China’s, and 1/7th the size of the US’s, South Korean companies like Altibase, Samsung Electronics, LG, and Hyundai Motors are competing with or surpassing the likes of Oracle, Apple, Intel, Sony, Toyota, and Ford.

One of the leading components in their growing competitiveness is their world-leading internet connectivity and speed. While only 65% of people in the United States have access to broadband, more than 94 percent of people in South Korean have access to high-speed connections.

Additionally, South Korea boasts the highest broadband connectivity and the highest average connection in the world.

Highest Broadband Connections in the World: South Korea 2013 #1

Average Connection Speed by Country: South Korea 2013 #1

What Altibase Learned

Similarly, Altibase built itself from the ground up by offering high performance as a core competency, backed by a full-featured and mature relational database management system (RDBMS) and long history of research and development in the In-Memory computing domain.

When the Internet era began in 2000, the demand for high-performance data processing was rapidly increasing especially in the high-tech, developing fields of telecommunications, finance and manufacturing. About that time, In-Memory databases were made commercially available in the world.

Before In-Memory database technology was developed, many companies developed their own in-house solutions using techniques like shared memory and so on, to work around the shortcomings of traditional disk resident databases. Those companies were the early adopters of In-Memory databases, taking advantage of the benefits gained from the convenience and ease of management.

The most well-known commercial In-Memory databases were TimesTen from the US, Solid from Finland, and ALTIBASE HDB from South Korea, with TimesTen later being acquired by Oracle, as Solid was acquired by IBM. All three In-Memory databases specialized in OLTP (On-Line Transaction Processing) performance for processing massive amounts of transactional data, a task which was not possible by using traditional disk resident databases.

Therefore, Altibase built a new DBMS system from the ground-up by emphasizing its In-Memory database which performs 5 to 40 times faster than a traditional databases. The primary reason for this vast difference is the fact that the entire database resides in memory, and in this way the burden of disk I/O which is a typical issue for disk resident databases is eliminated. Simplified data structures and other techniques used in designing of In-Memory databases also greatly add to the performance benefits, and guarantee consistent response times, even for massive and complex data requests.

Altibase Built from the Ground-Up:

Every aspect of Altibase is wholly developed in-house by Altibase even down to the smallest snippet of code.

Lesson Two: Control All the Resources

South Korean Government Takes Action to Become the Most Connected

In 1996, South Korea allowed Kepco—the public power utility, which, years prior, had developed a network of fiber-optic cables for its own use—to lease the unused 90 percent of its capacity, giving upstart broadband providers a cheap and instant means to compete. This entered Kepco directly with Korea Telecom—which had previously opened its network via government mandate—and consequently drove broadband prices down to among the lowest levels in the world, while availability was at an all-time high. The government has even set up a certification program to rate buildings based on the quality of their data lines, and fast connections are often bundled into an apartment’s rent in hyper-connected Seoul, South Korea neighborhoods.

Furthermore, the South Korean government has encouraged its citizens to use computers and to connect to high-speed Internet connections by subsidizing the price of connections for low-income and historically unconnected people, like stay-at-home mothers and housewives. The overall goal is to emphasize connectivity as a core tool of educational advancement, which is one of the most important values for South Koreans.

This public outreach, combined with South Korea’s efforts to create a way for companies to enter the broadband market without having to pay for huge amounts of infrastructure by embracing “open” systems—wherein for a fee, broadband providers must share the cables that carry Internet signals into people’s homes—has created a beneficial situation in which South Korea controls the resources for hyper-connectivity and encourages its use.

Using their Resources for Success

It is this spirit of ground-up leadership which has encouraged continuous innovation from Korean companies such as Altibase and NCsoft, originally a systems integration company, which decided to move into broadband media. When NCsoft made the move, it could have made the choice to simply distribute existing content such as webisodes or online animation—since South Korea is the third-largest producer of animation in the world, there was no shortage of supply. Instead, NCsoft’s CEO announced the company’s goal was to focus on interaction in the form of extensive, multiplayer online games which make full use of the country’s hyper-connected and extremely fast infrastructure by emphasizing collaboration between large groups of people, which of course, means many people playing at once.

What Altibase Learned

Similarly, while competing directly against American giants like Oracle Timesten and IBM SolidDB—much like NCSoft, Samsung, LG, and South Korea itself—Altibase distinguished itself by offering more features, and, simply, working harder to provide for its customer base. The limitation of traditional In-Memory databases is that the size of the database is limited by the amount of main memory in the system. However, this limitation can easily be overcome by ALTIBASE HDB because it also comprises an On-Disk database. This ability to access an In-Memory database and an On-Disk database using a single engine is a unique solution that only Altibase provides.

Instead of looking at In-Memory computing only as a front-end to their On-Disk database like their competitors who then rely on conventional disk database management systems (DBMS) to pick up the slack, Altibase works completely within its In-Memory database and therefore does not need yet another backend DBMS to be complete.

“The Western World is about outsourcing and purchasing solutions,” says CEO of Altibase, “But you’ve got to learn by doing, and shortcuts are not the answer.”

Altibase put their CEO’s belief into practice when working with the Korean branch of E*TRADE, one of the world’s top financial services companies, specializing in online trading. E*TRADE had outsourced its IT operations for 12 years but was at a crossroads: while expanding its online platform offline, E*TRADE found cracks in its system, preventing it from providing the robust service it was built on. Without its own in-house trading system, the expansion proved challenging and with its legacy Oracle On-Disk database, performance degradation was becoming pervasive.

ALTIBASE HDB provided E*TRADE with a highly reliable In-Memory Database that was a proven commodity at top financial firms since 1999. This way, ALTIBASE HDB gave E*TRADE the comfort level it desired with over 14 years of performance-driving functionality, agility and maturity. E*TRADE deployed ALTIBASE HDB in July 2012 after less than a year of development.

As a result, E*TRADE, on an ALTIBASE HDB foundation, was able to control its own resources and run its own, on-premise financial trading system that blows away competition with high reliability and performance. This allowed E*TRADE to fortify its position as an online brokerage giant, and grow its revenue, profitability and reputation.

Lesson Three: Make use of Opportunity Created during Drastic Times

When the Asian financial crisis threatened to crash South Korea’s banking system, help came not only in the form of government bailouts, but also from thousands of average Koreans—taxi drivers, waiters, and retirees, who lined up to donate gold jewelry and heirlooms in order to try and shore up the nation’s then meager reserves. Some athletes even donated their gold medals, which, while of minor monetary value, represented the collective spirit of banding together in tough times in order to find a way to prosperity. While the financial crisis was affecting Asia in general, only South Korea boasts this kind of united action.

On a more individual level, the implosion of the Korean economy meant thousands of middle managers were facing lay-offs, with little hope of finding new suit-and-tie jobs. What they did have, however, was a network of tightly knit extended families, which meant they also had access to moderate amounts of capital from relatives.

Many of them took this capital and invested in PC bangs—online gaming focused internet cafes where millions of Korean youth spend their free time, despite having Internet at home.

The venture to open a PC bang was not more complicated or expensive then opening another, more traditional type of business such as a restaurant or laundromat, however, their proprietors were intelligent enough to detect the growing trend of hyper-connected Korean youth culture, and capitalize on the opportunity. PCs quickly became the dominant gaming tool in South Korea — unlike in the rest of the world, where consoles rule. In 2008, South Korea’s PC bangs raked in $6 billion, and are often referred to colloquially as “Third Places,”—the first two being home and work—where young people go to game and socialize.

In both cases, Koreans displayed their willingness to draw together against adversity, as well as recognize potential opportunity which arose from economic or cultural adversity.

What Altibase Learned

Like the owners of lucrative and popular PC bangs, Altibase saw an opportunity and capitalized: In 2000, Altibase became the first DBMS vendor in the world to implement MVCC (Multi-Version Concurrency Control) for an In-Memory Database. This feature allows different users to simultaneously read and write data without access conflicts. At that time, Oracle was the only vendor that provided the feature in the commercial disk DBMS market.

This differs from what is typical in that In-Memory DBMSs normally provide only a subset of functions that a standard disk DBMS provides and thus can only be used for simple, small to medium size applications. In fact, this limitation is true of all In-Memory Database except Altibase.

Instead, ALTIBASE HDB features both memory and disk DBMS storage modes in a single software package, both of which fully support complex and long queries, such as those of the TPC-H benchmark test, and other powerful functions required by today’s enterprises, such as the Korean branch of Hewlett-Packard.

Prior to working with Altibase, HP Korea was confronted with a performance bottleneck. The company could not resolve its contradictory needs while designing and developing its OpenMCM APM system. The requirements for an effective solution were unprecedented, and required coupling extreme speed with large data storage.

The situation was so dire and a solution was unlikely—HP’s OpenMCM data processing requirement was a minimum of 30,000 transactions per second, or TPS—which nearly caused HP to shelve the project.

HP’s first attempt at a solution, utilizing a traditional On-Disk database, yielded tragically low TPS. HP then tested another company’s In-Memory processing technology which produced better performance, but resulted in only 20,000 TPS, still 10,000 TPS short.

In-House performance test numbers show the Select operation performance at a whopping 1,417,164 Transactions per Second, even with 32 Clients running on ALTIBASE XBD.

Additional challenges existed as no one could solve HP OpenMCM’s correlated, data storage needs. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) presented a massive hurdle, and system memory limitations of an In-Memory only DBMS necessitated the purchase of a costly, supplemental On-Disk database. Facing such impediments, HP could not implement key, additional features, such as real-time analytics, and HP’s OpenMCM prospects were bleak.

The solution was found in ALTIBASE HDB’s unique Hybrid architecture of In-Memory and On-Disk database, which addressed the need for high performance and large storage capacity in a single unified engine. This allowed ALTIBASE HDB to meet extreme speed requirements as well as HP’s need for integrated On-Disk storage, which in turn created feasibility and fostered low TCO.

By leveraging ALTIBASE HDB’s 45,000 TPS, Hybrid feature, and penchant to succeed where others had failed through innovation, HP became the complete APM solution.

Lesson 4: Always Strive to be #1

Over 20 years of proprietary In-Memory database experience has taught Altibase how to handle and solve even the most complex application challenges that clients face, and Altibase continues to expand on that experience with persistent and rigorous R&D to be the single-point solution for all mission-critical operations for years to come.

“Koreans have a passion for being No. 1” says Choi Myoung-wha, Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Hyundai, Korea’s largest automaker, and the fifth largest in the world.

This passion is reflected not only in South Korea’s prevalence as a hyperconnected IT powerhouse—an arena in which Seoul was ranked #1 in evaluation of e-government by an independent survey, putting it above New York, Hong Kong, and Vienna as cities whose IT infrastructure run the smoothest and fastest when it comes to e-business—but also in fields of politics, technology, and even entertainment.

Although South Korea, like much of the world, is still largely patriarchal, the country made international news early in 2013 when they elected Park Geun-hye, the first ever female leader of South Korea. This made South Korea the only country in East Asia with a female head of state.

Her goals, she has stated, is to allow her people to worry less and live well—as her father, a former leader of South Korea often proclaimed—and to consciously reflect the values of her country, and to allow young people the chance at prosperity.

South Korean Samsung soundly beating Apple in smartphone sales in Q1 2013, while LG, another South Korean company, slowly makes gains on both.

In addition to political firsts, South Korea holds a slew of economic and technological top spots: Samsung recently became the top selling smartphone brand in the world, outselling Apple for the first time in May 2013, despite Apple outspending on advertising by almost $100 million dollars in the last half of 2012.

Developments like this are not uncommon in modern South Korea which is following a clearly established and planned path towards consistent achievement.

Even in the realm of entertainment South Korea is quickly becoming a global force in the form of “K-POP”, catchy, glitzy pop music which has become popular all over the world. In 2012, pop star Psy dominated world radio play with “Gangnam Style”—the most viewed YouTube video of all time by becoming the first video to garner over 1 billion views.

In an interesting reverse of the trend we see in the video game entertainment sector, a mega-popular South Korean pop group called Girl’s Generation made history by becoming the first non-Japanese girl group to reach the #1 spot on Japan’s famously insular pop charts, and in 2011, Korean pop star Rain won the annual Time 100 poll in 2011 as the most influential person in the world for the 3rd time in 4 years (the year he didn’t win he came in second).

Of course, this trend should not be surprising, since it makes sense for young, hyper-connected South Koreans, to choose their favorite entertainers, and even more sense that the country with the world’s fastest broadband connection would put its favorites on top of global polls. After all, they can vote faster than their American or European counterparts.

Of course, none of this happened by accident or fluke. Instead, it represents the Korean drive to reach and achieve mastery in whatever they do—a practice which often leads students to spend up to 12-13 hours a day studying, often with private tutors after their regular school hours end.

What Altibase Learned

“Strategic, real-time data management is critical to open new lines of business and maintain customer satisfaction.” Says CEO of Altibase, “Consumers are no longer tolerant of data latency, inflexibility and application rewrites. The problems companies now face with quasi-real-time processing, if left unaddressed, will only grow as time passes.”

To serve the needs of top emerging world businesses, Altibase developed “hybrid architecture” which was devised to overcome the limitations of In-Memory database. The size of data in an In-Memory database is limited by the amount of physical memory and it is due to this limitation that In-Memory databases are usually used alongside disk DBMSs, in which most of the data are stored.

However, the hybrid architecture of ALTIBASE HDB can access both memory and disk storage areas using a single engine. Data that must be accessed quickly can be stored in memory. Vast amounts of data can be stored on disk. This architecture revolutionizes data processing because it allows join operations to be performed between the two separate storage areas or a combination of both RAM and Disk.

Only ALTIBASE HDB supports the use of a MOVE SQL statement to move data between memory and disk storage areas. This greatly increases the flexibility in the design of business applications and also serves to eliminate the burden on database administrators who would otherwise have to manage two distinctly different engines, worry about data integration between memory and disk, as well as managing different interfaces for client applications.

With its passion and drive to be the #1 solution, Altibase has met the In-Memory database needs of major industry clients for their mission-critical applications time and time again.

Lesson 5: Plan for Future Success

Having already achieved the fastest broadband speeds in the world, South Korea is still looking to the future to discover new potential avenues for innovation.

For the past few years, South Korea has used VDSL technology—a high speed network that delivers, as its name implies, a “very-high-speed digital subscriber line”.

And, while AT&T is adapting VDSL in the US, Korea is already leaving it behind in favor of the next big thing: super-fast fiber optic cables leading straight into the homes—or PC Bangs of its hyper connected populous. According to a recent report by the Berkman Center, this could make South Korean internet up to 10 times faster than it already is right now.

Additionally, since high-speed wireless access is so prevalent in South Korea, and especially in Seoul, residents even have access to the web while commuting in the subway, an area which has traditionally been a dead space for Internet access in major US cities like New York.

This extremely high level of mobile connectivity has allowed for a major innovation designed specifically for busy city-dwellers with more Internet access than time: Home Plus, a series of grocery stores, developed a system where commuters on their way home could shop for groceries via their mobile phones, while waiting on subway platforms.

Instead of creating a mobile app or mobile-friendly website, they developed a series of product images (with QR codes) which they plastered on the glass ways of subway stations. To fill their virtual basket, users would scan the QR code. After they checked out, the groceries would be delivered to their door the same night—all while taking the subway home from work.

At the forefront of innovation is Dr. Chang-Gyu Hwang, the former Chief Technology Officer of Samsung who was the driving force behind the firm’s transformation from a bulk component manufacturer in the 1980s to a global leader and innovator in the fields of semiconductors, flash memory, and of course, smartphone technology.

Now, he is the Chief Technology Officer and Head of the Office of the Strategic R&D Planning of the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, and his primary role is to maintain and strengthen everything South Korea has been able to accomplish in recent years. Hwang believes the world—and Korea—is on the verge of a new revolution in technology, a mobile and human-focused revolution he has coined “Smartopia”.

One of the central tenets behind Smartopia is leading innovation. While there is always talk of this in entrepreneurial and future focused industries, it can be difficult to put into practice. Hwang recommends that a leader should be knowledgeable on popular trends in their industry, observe the world around them—especially in areas where they lack complete expertise—and encourage experimentation to establish the most viable solutions. This is one of the core tenets that allowed Samsung, under Hwang’s leadership, to the development of flash technology that is now embedded in most of our mobile devices.

Hwang’s current role as the CTO of the entire South Korean government places him into an ideal position to test his vision of leadership and innovation which involves a great deal of strategic thinking, and requires him to engage with all levels of the economy and build collaboration not just within one organization, but across South Korea as well as between South Korea and the world.

What Altibase Learned

So, which technologies will be powering Hwang’s culture of innovation and leadership throughout Korea and the world?

Altibase, with its pioneering algorithms and data structures specially designed and highly optimized for In-Memory computing is already exhibiting the values of industry leadership and innovation.

Although real-time database management is still only a small part of the vast majority of the Fortune Global 500, the massive growth in data and the associated requirements to process that data in real-time means that companies no longer have the option to rely on legacy database systems. In fact, according to the financial research and consulting firm Aite Group, 20% of banks that do not upgrade their core systems are at a competitive disadvantage and have reached a high level of urgency to replace their core system.

The early adopters of In-Memory database technologies will simply see positive results earlier and surpass the competition. Globally, ALTIBASE HDB has been used at over 3,000 sites in the past 15 years, and more than 2 billion transactions per day are successfully processed.

Unlike Altibase, traditional DBMSs such as Oracle, IBM DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server do not provide innovative technology for processing the explosively increasing amounts of data in real time. Altibase is confident that its In-Memory technology can make it easier to process these increasing amounts of data to make business faster, more convenient and profitable.

Altibase provides the best technology for both analyzing data in real time and processing massive amounts of data. No other DBMS vendor provides this kind of solution.

Works Cited












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