Research@DBTA: New Data Environments Bring About Database Diversity

When was the last time you ran across a single-vendor data shop? With the proliferation of multiple database engines for multiple purposes, enterprises now take advantage of a range of database types—not to mention an increasing abundance of cloud services. The difficulty is managing these diverse environments—security, provisioning, and access—in a centralized fashion.

These challenges and opportunities were recently explored in a survey of 375 Microsoft SQL Server users, who are open to bringing in other brands. More than eight in 10 said they have more than one database brand onsite, and 81% cited the need to provide the most pertinent data environment to sup­port their enterprise application choices. Similarly, 42% said they went with par­ticular databases because of their vendors’ platforms. A majority also pointed to the diversity of environments that have arisen within their own organizations—54% noted the need to support departmental applications as the reason for going with a particular database.

The Quest for Analytics

The survey, conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., in partnership with Dell Technolo­gies, found that applications drive data­base choices and, more specifically, the quest for analytics is a critical factor in these decisions. Seven in 10 enterprises employ their database platforms for advanced analytics and business intelli­gence and, within the next 3 years, these types of application will be ubiquitous. In addition, data integration is now seen as an essential function, cited by more than 60% of respondents.

Virtual machines are also widespread across data environments, employed by close to three-fourths of respondents (74%). APIs rank highly on the list of data priorities as well, cited by 41%. More than one-third, 35%, see DataOps and DevOps methodologies as key to the growth of their environments going forward.

Containerization promises to ease the process of moving workloads between clouds and on-premise systems, adding flexibility to application development and deployment. However, enterprises are only at the beginning stages of container deployments. A total of 19% of respon­dents are using containers in a production environment, while 60% either don’t use these tools or simply don’t know if they’re being used within their organizations.

The survey found that cloud activity is on the rise within data environments. Enterprise database sites are moving to multi-cloud or hybrid cloud scenarios in a big way, drawn by the flexibility.

SQL Server in the Cloud

The survey looked at the state of SQL Server in the cloud. While most enter­prises still maintain their databases within on-premise systems, many have also moved functionality to the cloud or third-party providers as well. There are strong indications that hybrid cloud implemen­tations within these environments are gaining ground. More than eight in 10 respondents said that at least some of their systems are on-premise, while 41% have some or all of their systems in the cloud. Between these two, 25% report running their environments in both cloud and on-premise environments.

Much of the data managed within these systems also now resides in the cloud, with slightly more than half of the enterprises in the survey managing at least some data in the cloud. Likewise, about half of respondents have plans to continue moving data into the cloud—20% expect to boost their cloud presence within the next year, while 29% said they are open to moving more data into the cloud at a later date.

Close to one-third of enterprises have the majority of their relational and struc­tured data residing in the cloud, along with 16% of unstructured data. Smaller enterprises are more than twice as likely to have the majority of their data assets in the cloud.

Not Yet Mature

While managing data in the cloud has become a viable choice, 49% still express reservations about relying on the cloud as a data storage environment. The main rea­sons for this reluctance are cost and secu­rity concerns. Close to two-thirds stated that they want to avoid the potentially escalating costs that go with regular cloud usage, while more than half said they have security concerns.

Enterprise data in the cloud is a rel­atively new phenomenon. When asked about the maturity of their enterprise cloud data initiatives, a majority, 53%, said these efforts have been underway for less than 2 years.