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What is bitemporal and why should the enterprise care?

Matt Allen, Senior Product Marketing Manager, MarkLogic | March 31, 2017
Bitemporal databases reveal what you knew and when you knew it.

* Are you in an industry that requires presentation of historical data to regulators?  We live in an age of increasing regulation, with no sign of abatement, and many large organizations are having to go through massive change. The financial services sector, for one, has had to make considerable changes since the financial crisis in 2008, but organizations in all industries are seeing an increased call for historical data. Bitemporal enables organizations to preserve data history, including the changes made to data, so it is easy to collect and present required information for audit and other purposes.

* Are you in an industry in which the sequence of events--and the recording of those events--is critical to security and intelligence, as well as to overall strategy? Many, if not all, industries can benefit from support for bitemporal. In the healthcare industry, for example, bitemporal capabilities can provide a more accurate picture of a patient’s history and help connect the dots between an illness and its antecedents. Likewise, government intelligence and law enforcement agencies can use databases with bitemporal support to make sense of seemingly disparate data, enabling them to better understand motives and even better predict future events. Businesses can tap into this data to determine customer patterns and behavior, for more strategic development of new products and services. 

Is the cost and complexity of storing, accessing and securing historical data increasing?  While the cost per gigabyte of data is decreasing, organizations today are spending more on storing historical data because they are dealing with so much more of it. Organizations tend to hoard data in general, but regulations often demand it. Bitemporal data management helps keep storage in check because it avoids the need to set up additional databases for historical data.

* Is the complexity of managing, accessing and securing historical data becoming overwhelming to your database developers?  Developers just want to be able to write queries that can easily access historical data. If you aren’t implementing bitemporal and you aren’t tracking important components of historical data, developers won’t be able to ask certain questions of the data. Further, it can be quite complicated to manage different timelines and versions in a traditional database, placing an additional burden on developers and the DBAs tasked with maintaining the data. Bitemporal design helps simplify data access because it’s much less complex. 

* Is your company considering the whole picture of data governance?  There is an aspect of bitemporal data management that is important to data governance. Bitemporal helps companies improve the security of their data in one key way: If you’re using a traditional approach to managing historical data, you’re going to be making lots of copies of your data warehouse at different points in time and storing that data offline somewhere. The more copies of your data, the more vulnerabilities you’re introducing. With bitemporal, you’re creating a more streamlined, simple approach to maintaining historical data because your data is all in one place. That means you don’t have to keep track of all these copies of data floating around, which helps improve your overall data governance.  


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