SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Downside of Real Time


real time computing

How many of you have been told this: "I need to have the sales revenue figures updated in real time."

And how many of you have had your phone ring with a manager of some sort complaining about sales figures: "The report on my screen doesn't match the one my salesman submitted this morning." I bet more than a few minutes of your time as a DBA has been spent explaining why timing matters in running reports. I've even had people complain that they kept hitting F5 on a report and getting different figures.

Everyone wants real time reporting. They want to know when something is changed, what the most recent figures are, and how closely they're tracking to some target. I completely understand that, but often the people asking for real time reporting don't realize what they will really get and the implications of reporting on changing data in real time.

It's why I never really agree with business rules dictating triggers firing off emails or any type of reporting. It just results in too much information, often more than we can process in a short period of time. How many of you get instant updates from a variety of forums that you post in? Real time updates are definitely over-rated. Getting a report once an hour with a distinct list of threads would definitely be more helpful to me.

The same types of hassles and problems often occur with real-time reporting. The vast, vast majority of people that have asked for real time reporting, weren't in alerting situations, like problems with machinery, the need to cancel inappropriate sales immediately, stop shipping or receiving, etc. In those cases, real time alerts and reporting makes sense. In those cases where you need to, or can immediately affect the business.

In most cases, real time reporting wasn't really needed. Instead some type of periodic reporting, up to the last hour/day/month, made more sense and allowed those people examining reports to run them at different times and still easily communicate with each other about the meanings of the reports.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA


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