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NoSQL, NewSQL, and Emerging Blended Enterprise Data Environments

The past few years have probably been the most innovative period seen in the database world. Fresh, as well as tried-and-true, technologies, are being put to work to tackle the big data influx into enterprises. With an increasing emphasis on developing digital channels, competing on analytics, enabling data as a service, and connecting with the Internet of Things, the demand for effective data management only keeps intensifying. At the same time, the database market has expanded into a wide array of solutions—from traditional relational database management systems (RDBMSs) to alternative databases such as NoSQL, NewSQL, cloud, and in-memory offerings.

The net result is many opportunities to manage and orient data in new ways inside and outside of enterprises. Many enterprises are working within blended environments that apply NoSQL and NewSQL data environments alongside their RDBMSs to the most appropriate places they are needed.

A new survey of 300 data managers and professionals, conducted by Unisphere Research and sponsored by Dell Software, finds NoSQL technology is being used or being deployed at 21% of enterprises. Another 19% of respondents say they plan to implement NoSQL within the next 1–2 years. One-third of respondents expect NoSQL to have a significant impact on their database operations in the next 3 years. Hadoop is being used or is being deployed among 20% of respondents’ companies (The Real World of the Database Administrator, March 2015).

The survey also affirms that unstructured data is rapidly expanding—67% report that their volume of unstructured data is growing, of which 10% calculate that their unstructured data stores are expanding at a rate of more than 50% a year. This expansion of unstructured data stores is fertile ground that fuels the growth of NoSQL and NewSQL databases.

Databases may run behind the scenes, but they are the most critical links in corporate IT chains. Accordingly, data managers and business leaders have tended to stick with the big RDBMS platforms and relational database-based data warehouse environments, with their guarantees of security and consistency. However, as data shops became overwhelmed with increasing volumes and varieties of data—with expectations that it be delivered real-time or close to real-time—things began to shift to a mix of approaches that build new capabilities around existing RDBMSs.

Initially the domain of large web properties such as Google and Yahoo concerned with managing and sifting through large-scale data deployments, mainstream organizations have been employing NoSQL as well. The Unisphere Research survey finds NoSQL databases are already deployed or are being deployed across a wide range of industries, including tech (31%), financial services (12%), retail (8%), and utilities or telecoms (8%).

The top applications for NoSQL databases, as identified in a recent survey by Couchbase, include personalization, profile management, real-time big data, content management, catalogs, achieving a customer 360-degree view, mobile applications, and the Internet of Things (The Top 10 Enterprise NoSQL Use Cases, Couchbase, Q4 2014).

Of course, no two organizations are the same. Every one has different data requirements, different data configurations, and many enterprises have a great deal of investment in legacy infrastructure. Others may be gearing up with new business lines, or even be in startup mode. But, the rise of alternative databases is helping to change the way business and technology decision makers think about data problems and opportunities. Business users can quickly ask questions of any and all data streaming through their organizations, and look at data in response to their requirements.

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