The pace of change today means that companies and technologies will rise and fall faster than ever, and “innovate or die,” has never been more accurate.
As the Oracle OpenWorld conference winds down, not much was said about next-generation database technology – in particular Enterprise NoSQL databases. It’s the next-generation database technology that MarkLogic has made so enterprise-hardened that well over 50 percent of our business is a result of finishing projects that customers started on Oracle and could not complete.
Next-generation NoSQL technology solves the data challenges of today. Data isn’t seen anymore as small, neat, structured and static (data characteristics when Oracle’s relational database technology took off in the 1980s). Today, data floods in, drops from the sky in messy torrents that the smartest enterprises then collect and put into databases that are easily and quickly searchable – delivering valuable information in real-time. Enterprises need this data to compete, get an edge, serve consumers and clients — and they need the data to be secure, robust and transactional.
Businesses don’t thrive on their past successes but on their future innovations – which is why we have a focused and clear vision for MarkLogic. We understand the current and future challenges that you are having, and will have, with your data. And that understanding is crucial.
I was at Oracle for 14 years as it usurped the database business from IBM and its lauded mainframes. As Oracle helped customer after customer make the generational shift from mainframe to relational technology, IBM remained almost silent, adopting a head-in-the-sand posture that eventually left Oracle standing on top.
Why didn’t IBM respond more strongly? It couldn’t. Its business model was highly dependent—as Oracle’s is now—on legacy businesses, products, relationships and services. By springing to next-generation technology, Oracle would make life easier for its customers, but less profitable for itself. Also, for Oracle to admit that its workhorse relational databases cannot do it all—in fact cannot meet the data challenges of today as well as NoSQL—would raise serious doubts in the minds of enterprises as to why they’re paying millions of dollars to service and maintain technologies that are no longer cutting edge. Like IBM, Oracle is likely to be a follower and not a leader during this generational shift of database technology – the first generational shift in almost 30 years.
NoSQL goes beyond the SQL language that is the main tool used to manipulate relational databases. NoSQL aggregates and manages data from disparate sources, thus driving value out of data silos that the relational world created. That’s the data challenge of today. Relational databases were never designed to handle data silos, mixed workloads or the ever-increasing volume and velocity of data as defined by the term “Big Data.”
As more data sources pour in, relational databases get clunky and bolting on additional features is not the same as moving to a new database to store, manage and use data. That means they take more time and money to work well and customers become highly dependent on cumbersome and costly ETL processes, leaving data stuck in silos and preventing enterprises from getting a full view into their data. Enterprises today need insight into the data they store, and they want flexibility around the data as well as the questions they can ask of it. They also need the capabilities to run operational and transactional applications that maintain the integrity of the data and transactions. Of the NoSQL challengers, only we offer the features that enterprises need.
University of Berkeley Professor Michael Franklin, in a TechRepublic article, explained it very well:
“[W]hat’s really fundamentally different about this new-generation data management isn’t really isn’t just scalability (sic), but it’s really flexibility. If you look at the ability to store data first and then impose structure on it later—sometimes this is called schema on read or schema on need—that’s a complete game changer.”
Game changers are rarely good for incumbents but always good for technology users. Relational was the game changer of its day, but Oracle has missed this latest generational shift—and we’re proving that in the market.
Gary Bloom was the CEO of MarkLogic from 2012-2020.
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