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Understanding Time-series Databases in Real-Time Analytics 

Chandan Gaur | 19 May 2023

Time-series Databases in Real-Time Analytics

Overview of Time Series Databases

A time-series database is usually put in work to deal with time-stamped or time-series data. It is also often considered as a series of data that is studied over time. Time-Stamped data would be any information that is collected over some time. For example, this could be any data, application performance monitoring, stock market trade records, book rental details from an old library or just a version management repository for an application.
Time series data is a set of values organized by time-series which include sensor data, stock prices, click stream information and application telemetry. Source: Time Series -Azure

However, a time series is built specifically to handle time-stamped events and metrics. Time series database holds history with a finance application, but it has proved to be of significant importance when managing real-time and historical data. The main difference between a time series and a normal database is that the queries are always made over time in a time series and not on average values. When plotted on a graph, a time series would always have time as one axis.

Why is a Time-Series DB Important?

This question comes up as we already have working DB models very efficiently. But the present technological market is transforming into a much more curious consumer of information. The previously used data for visualizing the results are now used to learn and respond and predict future outcomes. To overcome the chances of loss and reduce hardware downtime, we need to keep a timely record of how the system responds to the change. This timely record is maintained over a time series of data. And working on such data often needs a specialized approach. This proposed a DB that can adapt to the dynamically changing information with dynamic schemas. This was also required to be elastically scalable and consistent as the volume grows with time. RDBMS has been serving many of the demands well but was designed for entirely different information kinds. This made the use of specialized time series databases popular and acceptable over RDBMS for time series data.

From Reactive to Proactive

For a long time now, the time series DBs have been used as a reactive system to analyze and visualize current trends. This approach focused on working on data from the past and had no contribution to future developments. But as man's desire to predict and indulge in the future became more prominent, a significant change in the way the data is processed also came along. The time-series database, which can deliver a proactive response to the time-series data, came up to be the best solution. The new businesses need a proactive approach for their Real-Time predictive actions. With the current business requirement of reacting before a situation becomes a crisis source, reactive business approaches fail badly. The need to adopt time-series databases for a proactive approach is a must for upcoming business opportunities.

What makes the Time Series Databases Different?
A Time-series DB is unique in its way of interacting with the data. Time series data are collected over time, with makes the highly voluminous sometimes. A Time-series specially designed to work with such data has a much better and faster approach to handling such data. However, the storage and retrieval of this would have been a problem for the RDB.  Many propose using relational databases only instead of these specialized ones, which would seem useless for information other than the time series data. However, this would always need a parent table in the relational database describing the natural keys and a reference key, usually smaller, to refer back to the natural keys. Whereas an optimized time series does the same task, there is no need for reference keys or surrogate keys.

Time Series Databases vs. Relational Databases

  • Time series database makes storage and computation much cheaper, but they don't offer solutions that weren't already there in the market. The relational database has been serving the market well for a long time and holds the full capability to further. But when the data started growing horizontally rather than vertically, handling RDBMS became a whole new pain.
  • Modern time series provide good performance and are scalable.
  • RDBMS provides intelligent business handling solutions
  • Working on historical data with RDBMS has always been an issue as they are hard to scale. For that account, it is common to switch to horizontally scalable systems.
  • Working on data with many entities to consider (vertical data) is troublesome with the time series DB. Even with a high cost and higher storage cost, most companies choose RDBMS in this case.

Both time series and relational DB have their own testified use cases and workforces. Both are capable of performing each kind of computation only in some circumstances, one turns out to be useful while in others proving to be beneficial.

Real-time Analytics and Time-Series Databases

Real-time analytics is using the information as it is made available. The response time is always the main and key axis for the analysis. Time-series databases, however, manage Real-time analysis. It came into existence to understand and maintain rapidly increasing internet traffic demands. With the increasing inaccessibility of the internet, there came a huge rise in the number of unstructured data points on the network. With millions of users came the data of their usage and search demands. This when accumulated with time, and there was no stopping it. It expanded exponentially both horizontally and vertically, so much so that managing traditional DBs became a huge challenge. The time-series DBs gave the scalability and adaptability to adjust to the users' highly increasing demands. This is now used for all sorts of time-stamped data and has been behind many tech giants' success stories for a few decades now.

Time Series DBs as a Stream Processing Solution

Stream processing is querying data continuously as it streams in from the input source. Stream processing makes real-time analysis possible by unifying applications with analysis. Time-series DBs are also capable of processing streaming data, unlike traditional DBs. They can manage huge volumes of data and detect anomalies for a particular time and analyze workloads coming from multiple streams at a time. Stream processing helps get insights in a much faster time frame than other solutions. Many present businesses are completely based on time series stream processing, which cannot be performed singularly by any other DB. We would need to club multiple technologies to work as one to process a time series database with any other DBs.

Real-time analytics tools allow businesses to analyze and act upon data in Real-time, gaining valuable insights and improving decision-making. Explore more about Real-Time Analytics Tools and Benefits


Time-series DBs are great for horizontally scaling organizations but are often discouraged when the scales vertically. Real-time analytics have organizations with applications that use time-series DBs as their backbone. Most of the time, series DB customers span over IoT monitoring, DevOps monitoring, and real-time analytics and visualization. Streaming real-time information using time series databases lower real-time analytics costs and increases overall efficiency.