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Actian Zen v13 Product Information

First Customer Ship:June 27, 2017
End of General Availability:Not Scheduled
End of Support:Not Scheduled

Click here for the Zen v13 Product Data Sheet

What is Actian Zen?

In 2017, Actian refocused their database efforts around a new concept called Hybrid Data. The theory behind Hybrid Data is to provide a continuum of database products that can satisfy the data needs of most organizations. This continuum would provide for the most efficient access and storage of data at each level to meet the goals of that level. Here's what it looks like graphically:

On the left you can see the Actian Zen Embedded Library -- special components designed to be built into applications for the Internet of Things (IoT) world, to enable you to capture data on IoT endpoints, including sensors, smart phones, and small devices like the Raspberry Pi and Windows Nano Server. The extremely small footprint of the Zen database product makes it ideal for these environments where processing power, memory, and storage are extremely limited.

Once that data has been collected and processed within the IoT endpoint, the data can be pushed or aggregated into a central database for additional processing (such as deduplication) and reporting. It can also be merged with data stored within other SMB database application environments, such as those used for accounting, SPC data tracking, healthcare data, airlines, and more. By leveraging the power of full-blown Windows and Linux servers here, the Actian Zen Database Engine can handle substantially larger data sets and heavier processing workloads, up to hundreds of users or more. There are currently three editions of the Zen Embedded Database, namely the Workgroup Engine (for up to 5 concurrent users and a limited feature set), the Server Engine (for 6+ concurrent users), and the Vx Server Engine, supported unlimited users and licensed only by data size -- suitable for internet and SaaS solutions.

One of the challenges faced by any database engine is high-speed reporting and analytics. A row-based environment like Actian Zen is ideal for maintaining large quantities of data accurately and controlling multiple users that need to update the data simultaneously. However, such an environment is not well suited for analytics. Enter the Actian Vector database engine. The Vector database provides a column-based data store which can provide results, but at a speed that can be as much as 100x faster than a row-based database! This superior performance can be used to quickly generate dashboards, show trends within data, isolate sensor data that is out of a normal range, and coalesce your data into usable management reports.

At the far right, we see the Actian X Hybrid database. This combination of Ingres and Vector provides a high-end, enterprise-class, database environment for your applications, where you can leverage the SQL interface for Ingres to store your data, and yet still attain the reporting benefits of Vector.

Connecting these various layers in the picture above is a component called Actian DataConnect. This integration tool supports classic ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) operations for both simple and complex data conversions, as well as filtering and aggregation functions. While this tool exists today, the level of functionality it offers at the lower end (to the Zen Embedded Library and Zen Embedded Database) data is still a bit limited. We expect that they will start to address this in the upcoming releases.

While you are waiting for Actian to complete their picture, however, you should know that Goldstar Software has solutions for you today! Our DDF2XML tool can extract the database definitions from your Zen/PSQL database and generate CREATE statements for the Vector database. Another tool, GSSync, can pull data records out of the Zen databases and send them over to the Vector environment, much like the DataConnect product. Where GSSync shines, however, is in the handling of legacy and variant data types, as well as being able to identify changed records in your Zen/PSQL data, and update only the changed records in the Vector side, saving processing time and limiting changes.

Actian Zen Embedded Library

The Zen Embedded Library is not quite available yet, but should be available for some platforms in late 2017 or early 2018. Exact details on platforms and pricing are yet to be announced, but we expect solutions for the Raspberry Pi and Android to be available first.

Actian Zen Embedded Database

The Actian Zen Embedded Database is formerly known as Actian PSQL, Pervasive PSQL, Pervasive.SQL, and even Btrieve and NetWare SQL. This database engine continues the long-standing history of providing a direct record-level access method with extremely high performance and a high degree of flexibility for the developer with respect to data structures. It is the original NoSQL database, but it ALSO includes a full ANSI-compliant SQL engine that can be accessed through ODBC, JDBC, ADO.NET, and other interfaces. It supports database record sizes to 4GB, and individual data file sizes up to 256GB, and it has become the database engine of choice for applications within just about every vertical markets, including airlines, banks, dentists, doctor's offices, funeral homes, insurance companies, long term care facilities, steel mills, timber harvesting, and utilities.

As with previous versions (Actian PSQL v12 and older), Zen v13 is available for Windows in both 32-bit and 64-bit levels. The Linux engine is expected to be a 64-bit version only, but it will not be available until Service Pack 1, some time towards the end of 2017. We do not expect compatible versions of DataExchange and AuditMaster until 2018 at the earliest.

Right now, the embedded product name is still Actian PSQL v13, but this name will be retired in favor of the new name which conveys the primary features of Zen -- Zero-DBA, Embeddable, and Nano-footprint (i.e. small size).

What's New In Zen v13?

Here is a list of the most important new features in this release:

  • Reporting Engine: Many users have asked for this feature over the years, and it has finally come to fruition! Included FREE with Zen v13 is a new Reporting Engine (RE), which allows you to set up a secondary Zen server for reporting purposes. Now, you can off-load your SQL queries and reports, preserving the performance of your production server.
  • New Btrieve C and C++ APIs: Simpler development is here! A new Btrieve 2 API is included with v13 which offers a simplified way of calling the database from C, but also from object-oriented languages like C++. Even better, a new SWIG API is available for the Btrieve 2 API which offers access from Perl, PHP, Python, and other scripting environments. Get more details from the Getting Started guide.
  • New Schema Export and Import in PCC: A completely revamped solution to exporting and importing your SQL metadata is available in v13, making it possible to recreate your databases, migrate from v1 to v2 metadata, and more.
  • Updated Cache Management: Would you like to purge useless data from your database engine cache? A new option for BUTIL is available to do just that! This command can be used to flush pages from a large, rarely-accessed file from your database cache. Even better -- use the -CACHE option to pre-load data from your critical files into the cache, improving performance for your users!
  • New SDKs: ADO.NET 4.3 modules are now available (ADO.NET 4.0 has been deprecated in Zen v13).

In addition, there are several BETA features included which are expected to be formally released with the Service Pack 1 update:

  • BETA Release: Zen Server and Client for Raspbian Linux: Want to access Zen from your Raspberry Pi (ARM32) device? Yup -- it's in there! Want to run a Zen database *ON* your Raspberry Pi device? That too! Check out this BETA release now and be prepared for when it officially releases later in the v13 development cycle.
  • BETA Release: Windows IoT Core Support: Another BETA release will support the Windows IoT Core operating system for x86 and ARM32 CPU's.
  • BETA Release: Windows Nano Server Support: The last BETA release will support the Windows Nano Server environments, allowing you to run on a minimim-footprint, non-GUI version of Windows Server designed to run in the cloud or within containers. This engine can be managed remotely via WMI and PowerShell, and it reduces the OS size and security footprint of your environment considerably, saving both storage space and memory.

You can get the official What's New document from Actian's Zen v13 Downloads Page.

Supported Operating Systems and Hardware Requirements

Officially supported operating systems include Windows 7 and newer, and Windows Server 2008 R2 and newer only. Windows Vista, Windows XP, Server 2003, Server 2008 (not R2) and older operating systems are not formally supported by Actian with this release! This does not mean that they will not work, but only that they have not been officially tested or supported by Actian.

For minimum hardware and OS requirements, refer to the Actian Zen v13 Hardware Requirements page.

Actian Zen v13 License Models

Actian Zen v13 has three different license models to choose from:

  • Workgroup Engine: Per-user licensing, up to a maximum of 5 concurrent users
  • Server Engine: Per-user licensing, starting at 6 concurrent users
  • Vx Server Engine: Data size licensing with unlimited users for Web/SaaS installations

Please see our Zen v13 License Primer for more information on the various license types and other factors that might help you determine the best license type for your environment.

If you have decided on per-user licensing, but you are still not sure if you want the Workgroup Engine or the Server Engine, check out our Workgroup Versus Server Comparison Chart.

Pricing for each of these license models can be found on our Actian Zen v13 price list, or you can BUY IT NOW from our on-line store. If you want to try out different license models before you buy (a really good idea!), you can get trial downloads from Actian's Web Site.

Still not sure which license model or size to get?

Actian Zen v13 Application Support

We expect application vendors to start testing Actian Zen v13 soon after its release, and hopefully to announce support for the new version shortly thereafter. If we have heard from your vendor, then our Application Support pages may have useful information already for you. Otherwise, please contact your application vendor directly to find out when they expect to support Zen v13.

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