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MarkLogic Pushes NoSQL Further Into the Enterprise

MarkLogic, which bills itself as the only enterprise NoSQL database provider, completed a $102 million financing round earlier this year that it will use to accelerate the pace of growth in the $36 billion operational database market. According to Joe Pasqua, executive vice president of products at MarkLogic, the plan is to take that investment to speed the pace of growth in geographic regions in the U.S. and around the world, accelerate product innovation, and continue to grow headcount to support that growth. The company is also accelerating its push in semantics technology, exemplified by the recent partnership with Cambridge Semantics, with an initial focus on the areas of pharmaceuticals, life sciences, financial services and the public sector.

“This year we are adding more customers at an accelerated pace, and we are getting more projects with our existing large customers,” said Pasqua. “We had a 50%-plus growth rate last fiscal year (completed January 31, 2015) and our growth in this fiscal year is great as well, and we look to move that forward through the funding. That is really what that is about. The other main thing is that we are just accelerating our customer acquisition.  We are adding more and more wins in the marketplace and more are tied to semantics. We are seeing a really broad set of use cases for semantics in a lot of areas that are extremely diverse.”

Joe PasquaRecently, Big Data Quarterly spoke with Pasqua about the changing database management market, and what MarkLogic is doing to meet emerging enterprise customer requirements.

MarkLogic identifies itself as the enterprise NoSQL database company. What are the characteristics that enterprise customers require?

Pasqua: There are two ways of answering this. One way is that it hasn’t changed at all. The core requirements for enterprise database software are that it has to be reliable, highly available, secure, able to scale to meet load requirements that an enterprise has. That is required for mission-critical applications, and unless you have those, you don’t pass go, it is kind of the end of the story. Those requirements have not changed and I don’t expect them to change significantly in the foreseeable future. Everything you do in the product has got to meet those base requirements.

What is different?

Pasqua: Enterprise requirements for scalability and elasticity have drastically changed over the last 5 to 7 years. Organizations fundamentally don’t want the scale-up model anymore; they want scale-out. They want to be able to get the capacity that they need when they need it and they want to be able to add more. They want to be able to subtract capability or capacity when they don’t need it. You are seeing that in the cloud model very much. And part of what is driving that is buying patterns. The days where every enterprise IT project was 3 years and $3 million is out the window.

Enterprises have much more of an agility requirement. They need to be able to start small and scale as they go. And they need to be able to pay as they build out rather than buying everything up-front. That really has been a major shift.

What else?

Pasqua: The other shift has been an expectation of a lot more power and capability. Organizations are starting to expect capabilities like bitemporal [which tracks system time, capturing data with time “as it was recorded”] and they are starting to expect features that allow them to deal with the regulations that they are under. If they have got to deal with Dodd-Frank  [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act], then they are expecting their vendors to give them technologies that are relevant to the enterprise requirements that are being put on them. And that is moving at a much faster pace than it has before.

Are there specific verticals that MarkLogic fits best into?

Pasqua: We are seeing a really broad set of use cases for semantics in a lot of areas that are extremely diverse. We have everything from  people doing genetics work and linking up research they doing with semantics to companies like NBC that use semantics at the core of their Saturday Night Live 40-year anniversary app. They used semantics to model information about all the actors, all the characters, and skits and how they relate to one another and when you use the app (which is quite addictive as I found out when I wanted to use it for just a minute). It suggests skits you might like with the same actors, and similar sketches. It is really cool and just one example of where people are using semantics. We also have customers such as the American Psychological Association which has very strict rules about how it classifies articles and research spanning more than 100 years. So we are seeing a broadening set of use cases for semantics. Those are just a couple of highlights.

Let’s talk about the MarkLogic semantics features. Why was this important to the platform?

Pasqua: Semantics was introduced in MarkLogic 7 and then in version 8 we did some significant upgrades. The reason that semantics has been so important is that it really introduces a new way to organize and query your data. It is fundamentally about expressing individual facts and relationships between facts so you create a network of knowledge which you can use to get better answers to your queries. When you start putting what seem like simple facts into your database like the currency in Italy and the euro, or that GE is the same company as General Electric, and you start tying the sets of information together, you can start answering queries where you can draw up on that knowledge base.

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