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You Keep Using that Word, Real-Time

Four Really Real Meanings of Real-Time

Our director of engineering told me that she had a customer ask if we could do real-time data processing with Syncsort DMX-h. Knowing that real-time means different things to different people, the engineer asked what exactly the customer meant by real-time. He said, “We want to be able to move our data out of the database and into Hadoop in real-time every two hours.”

When she told me that story, I wanted to quote Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride.” You keep using that word, “real-time.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

But what does real-time actually mean? And what do you really mean when you say real-time? What do other people usually mean when they say real-time? How can you tell which meaning people are using? And what the heck is near real-time?

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