As a continuation of the product insight series, I now take a look at InterBase and speak to Stephen Ball, Worldwide Pre-Sales Director at Embarcadero. In this blog, you’ll discover more about what it is, who it is for and why people should use the tool.

What is InterBase?

InterBase is a full-featured, high performance, and small-footprint, relational database that software developers can embed directly into their software applications.

The database protects your systems with secure encrypted data storage, point-in-time recovery, logless field-level change tracking that scales to 1,000’s of devices and more, all in a powerful lightweight, embeddable, admin-free database. InterBase is trusted by ISVs globally and has a strong presence in medical solutions. With InterBase, you can embed, deploy and relax!

Who should use InterBase and why?

One thing that makes InterBase very popular is how it helps shorten the development cycle and gives capabilities for supporting a range of industry standards that developers need to work with.

As an example, PCI compliance recommends separate encryption keys for card details from those used for other data. InterBase supports both database-wide and multiple encryption keys being used (even on the same table) in a single database engine that can be deployed to Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS and Android. This helps with testing and working towards single source code bases to reduce the total cost of ownership.

ISVs especially love InterBase because it contains the kind of features normally reserved for top-level Enterprise databases but at a much more affordable price point.

InterBase has just released new updated ADO.NET drivers and also has deep integration in RAD Studio for Delphi and C++Builder, plus ODBC and JDBC drivers are supplied for other languages and systems.

There are different product editions, what are the differences?

InterBase can be deployed either as a standalone database engine, that allows multiple applications to connect to the same database or as a deeply embedded database that is used by a single app.

InterBase Server, InterBase Desktop and Free Developer Edition

InterBase Server, Desktop and Developer editions are all based on the installed version of InterBase, which can be used on Windows and Linux. The only difference is the features defined in the licences used. In short, Server edition allows multiple users across the network to connect, Desktop (Windows only) allows multiple apps on the local machine to connect to the same database. The Developer edition is very similar to Server, with a couple of restrictions to prevent it from being deployed on a live site.

Many software vendors choose InterBase Server because it easily scales up to hundreds of concurrent connections. Since it runs equally well on a low-end laptop as it does on a commercial-grade server, it’s a highly flexible solution to accommodate your varying customer demands and mix of resources.

InterBase ToGo and IBLite

InterBase ToGo is an option for those looking to add local data storage to their applications, but it can also be used as a client driver to connect to a remote InterBase Server.

InterBase ToGo is an excellent choice for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and macOS applications that need to use data offline. The benefit of having data on mobile is faster application speed, reduced network traffic and lower data costs.

InterBase ToGo and IBLite use the same InterBase libraries so when you’re ready, it’s incredibly easy to upgrade from IBLite to InterBase ToGo by simply replacing the licence file.

InterBase has won an IoT award

Imagine being able to run a standard SQL select statement on your database, but instead of getting all the data, you just get a summary at a field level of what has changed since you last requested the data. That’s the essence of InterBase Change Views.

It is highly scalable and secure as it’s completely logless and adds near-zero overhead to the database performance. It’s this ability to track changes and enable personalised updates to any subscriber that help Change Views win the Most Innovative Use of Data Award at the Total Telco awards a few years back.

From a developer’s perspective, you can just develop your app, with local data storage, speed and performance without worrying about change tracking. This reduces planning and makes you much more agile and efficient. Once you are ready, you can then query either local data for changes to push back, or you can use InterBase on the server-side to deliver a delta that will update the cache on your local machine. We are seeing more and more that InterBase is co-existing alongside other database systems to simply mirror data into InterBase to enable the mass deployment of delta changes because of the unique way Change Views work.

What’s your favourite feature and why?

Originally, I worked for a software house using InterBase with over 600 customers around the world. One of my favourite things about InterBase was how little training it took to get the support team ready to commercially support the product. New staff only needed about 30 minutes to understand all the basics and procedures we had in place. The Admin APIs make it super easy to backup, restore, and deal with any issues caused by bad disk sectors or similar. The database is super robust and being near admin free, make it a dream to work with. In comparison, we merged with a company that used SQL Server and had to pay for a full-time DBA to manage a small number of customer databases. InterBase made great commercial sense.

Any tips and tricks? is a great resource for information on InterBase, as is the getting started guide that is a great one-pager you can download and use. They are great at providing the key information to get you going quickly.

How has InterBase been used?

Well, I mentioned earlier it’s a zero-admin database. There is a copy on the Mars Rover (apparently, they couldn’t find a DB up for the mission). It was also used in the space shuttle for managing all the cargo manifests which is pretty cool. Closer to earth, InterBase is widely used in Medical thanks to the ability to secure data with full at rest encryption, in fact, one of our largest ISVs uses InterBase inside medical imaging equipment. I was also talking recently with an organisation in Sweden that automate the processing of around half a million financial records a day at peak throughput for government and blue-chip organisations, all into InterBase. We also see a lot of InterBase used in POS systems, in fact, you probably interact with it most days you go shopping without realising.

Anything else you would like to add?

We have just launched new ADO.NET drivers that include support for the Entity framework. Additionally, the website has launched. We love hearing about the projects you are looking to work on and are always happy to offer help and advice to ensure you get the most out of InterBase.

What resources should we take a look at?



Video interview

Watch the video version of this interview:

InterBase Overview with Robin Ashby and Stephen Ball

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