What is OLTP – Online Transaction Processing?

The OLTP is a database software solution that supports the internet-based transactional-related applications. Short for Online Transaction Processing, the OLTP database system works over the internet and applied at areas such as retail sales, order entries, customer relationship management, financial transactions, etc.

In today’s competitive business environment, the majority of companies are increasingly using the internet to promote and sell their services and products. The online systems also provide an opportunity to easily interact with their existing and potential customers. 

Today, e-commerce has grown to be one of the main methods that customers use to buy products. In practice, the majority of the platforms have many users who usually conduct several short online transactions. In such situations, the businesses would greatly benefit from the OLTP system. 


Online transaction processing OLTP technology
Online transaction processing (OLTP) vs traditional real-time processing Image: Opentextbooks


OLTP basic operation

The online transaction processing systems comprises of simple database queries with sub-second response times in addition to returning only a few records. Since these do not require heavy processing and a long time, the OLTP databases should operate almost in real-time.

A typical OTLP includes the data input and processing followed by updating of existing data to reflect the new captured and processed information. Generally, the online transaction processes are complex, but businesses use database management systems to simplify things and support them.

The database-based transaction processing systems optimize the concurrent nature of databases that allows a large number of users to perform multiple transactions in real-time. In practice, the OLTP systems are usually decentralized to prevent concurrency failures when one server has a problem. As with other mission-critical assets, there are frequent backups (usually every few seconds) for the database servers to ensure that the business can recover the latest transactions in case of a failure.

The online transaction processing systems entity models are highly normalized and usually have very many tables, unlike the online analytical processing systems that use the denormalized star schema. 

A key consideration when deploying the OLTP is the middle tier which plays a vital role in ensuring the success of the system. In particular, you should pay attention to performance, scalability, and other issues that originate from the middle tier.