If there were one technology product you wish you had invented, what would it be? Google search? Facebook? The iPad?
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a surprising answer to that question: it’s the relational database.
The first relational database management system to hit the market was developed by Oracle. It changed the technology industry by creating a functional database that could store and retrieve data using relational constructs like tables. Every piece of software on the market relies on a database of some sort, and Oracle led the charge. At the same time, they established themselves as one of the most successful technology companies in the world.
And then everything went online.
Today, Oracle offers both on-premises and cloud versions of its flagship database, and similar technology is available from several competitors. The tools have developed and changed over the years, but the demand is still the same. Online databases have become essential for many companies as more of our business is transacted in the cloud.
But what does that mean for you?
The Basics: What You Should Know About Database Technology
Online databases have proved to be an essential foundation for technology innovation (we’ll talk about why in just a minute). As the volume and speed of data have increased, so has the demand for a database that can handle the need. Data now underlies almost every aspect of doing business, and databases have necessarily evolved to manage the many different types of data flowing through in ever-increasing volumes.
As data needs increased, the relational database was no longer sufficient, and so additional types of databases emerged. Today, you’ll come across a number of different database options on the market. These include:
SQL: Relational databases that use tables to store and access data in a structured format. They are the historical gold standard for preserving data integrity, indexing data, and maintaining concurrency among transactions. Microsoft’s SQL is a popular option, and it makes Microsoft big money through seat-license fees.
Postgres: An open-source object-relational database management system that allows custom programming using different languages, meets ACID requirements, and is highly programmable. You can also define custom data types, index types, and plugins to meet your needs—and do it all without seat licenses.
NoSQL: Non-relational databases that were developed to manage the huge increases in data volume and data types that have flooded into our daily business transactions. They can work with both structured and unstructured data as well as a much larger volume of transactions.
Hadoop: A distributed computing tool designed to handle large datasets. Consisting of four modules, Hadoop is cost-effective, extensible, and flexible, making it a good choice for big data analytics. Hadoop offers many use cases in addition to data storage, including risk analysis, point of sale transaction analysis, threat analysis, and trade surveillance.
NewSQL: A hybrid transactional database model that aims to combine the benefits of both SQL and NoSQL. The goal of these databases is to address the lack of scalability, flexibility, and speed in SQL databases while also maintaining more familiar data and query capabilities.
The type of database you choose will depend on the needs of your company and what you expect the software to do. No matter which direction you choose to go, your online database will open doors of possibility that offline servers can’t match.
8 Reasons to Invest in an Online Database
Online databases take advantage of several inherent benefits of operating in the cloud:
1. Economy of Scale
Multi-tenancy models manage costs by sharing resources among many users. You pay only for the portion of the server you use, which means your upfront costs are much lower.
Of course, being online means that your data is available anytime, anywhere. Whether your employees are working from the office, from home or from another country, they can log in and access the information they need.
Need additional storage? No problem. Online databases can scale up or down quickly based on your requirements.
And these aren’t the only advantages of moving your data online. Online databases operate faster, more efficiently, and with more flexibility than their predecessors. Here are five additional benefits they offer:
4. More Processing Power
Online databases can process transactions faster and handle larger quantities of data since they aren’t limited by physical hardware or space. You can also deploy new storage and data requirements quickly since you don’t have to maintain a physical data center.
5. More Storage
Storage space online is limited only by the service package you pay for. If you need more storage, it’s available. That also means you don’t have to rely on limited technology infrastructure or purchase new servers when you need to increase your storage. Distributed storage offers unlimited storage across several “nodes,” which increases security while also expanding your data storage capabilities.
6. Real Time Data Analysis
Hybrid transactional databases have made real-time data analytics a reality. As data demands grow, real-time analysis gives companies the edge they need to remain competitive using insights gleaned from process, equipment, and transactional data.
7. Lower Costs
As we mentioned above, economies of scale keep your costs down by distributing them across multiple tenants. You’ll also avoid the cost of purchasing and maintaining the hardware and infrastructure required to store your data onsite.
8. Disaster Preparedness
Storing data online is a great way to protect your information against loss. In one study, more than 70% of the business surveyed reported that their disaster recovery strategy was improved by virtualizing servers, and 1 in 3 said disaster preparedness was a key consideration in choosing to move into the cloud.
The reason cloud services have become so widespread is that they make it possible to accomplish more with fewer resources. Cloud databases even the playing field by allowing smaller companies to extend their reach and giving large companies the flexibility to scale as well as the processing and analytics power to outperform competitors.
And those capabilities are becoming even more critical as we look at the future of innovation.
How Online Databases Propel Innovation
New technologies like IoT, AI, and machine learning depend on data to work their magic. It’s data that allows you to pull insights from IoT equipped machinery. It’s data that allows an AI tool to “learn” over time. And it’s data that allows the depth of analytics needed to manage your people, processes, and customer interactions more effectively.
But data alone isn’t enough. With the volumes of data we collect expanding at unprecedented rates, online databases give you the space, speed, and processing power to make sense of it all. Here are just a few implications:
Disparate data sources produce larger volumes of data.
We’re sitting on a virtual treasure trove of data, and we’re pulling that data from many different sources. Every time we add an access point (such as a smart robot or an IoT-equipped machine), we increase the possibilities for data collection. Online databases give us the ability to integrate multiple data sources into one location so it can be monitored and analyzed far more easily.
Smarter, faster technology requires more processing power for data analysis.
The more data we have and the faster we can process it, the more intricate our data forecasts and models will be. Better statistical analysis will pave the way for more accurate business decisions and additional technology innovation, including AI, IoT, and machine learning.
Increased data volumes require more storage capabilities.
The smarter our technology gets, the more space we need to store, manage, retrieve, and analyze the data we collect. Moving your data online gives you the ability to scale as your data management needs grow.
We’re stepping into a data-filled future. Online databases will give us the infrastructure and analysis capabilities we need to use that data to greatest advantage in our manufacturing plants, warehouses, and offices.