The term NoSQL has been a misnomer ever since it appeared in 2009 to describe a group of emerging databases. It was true that a lack of support for Structured Query Language (SQL) was common to the various databases referred to as NoSQL. However, it was always one of a number of common characteristics, including flexible schema, distributed data processing, open source licensing, and the use of non-relational data models (key value, document, graph) rather than relational tables. As the various NoSQL databases have matured and evolved, many of them have added support for SQL terms and concepts, as well as the ability to support SQL format queries. Couchbase has been at the forefront of this effort, recognizing that to drive greater adoption of NoSQL databases in general (and its distributed document database in particular) it was wise to increase compatibility with the concepts, tools and skills that have dominated the database market for the past 50 years.
Data lakes have enormous potential as a source of business intelligence. However, many early adopters of data lakes have found that simply storing large amounts of data in a data lake environment is not enough to generate business intelligence from that data. Similarly, lakes and reservoirs have enormous potential as sources of energy. However, simply storing large amounts of water in a lake is not enough to generate energy from that water. A hydroelectric power station is required to harness and unleash the power-generating potential of a lake or reservoir, utilizing a combination of turbines, generators and transformers to convert the energy of the flowing water into electricity. A hydroanalytic data platform, the data equivalent of a hydroelectric power station, is required to harness and unleash the intelligence-generating potential of a data lake.
As I noted when joining Ventana Research, the range of options faced by organizations in relation to data processing and analytics can be bewildering. When it comes to data platforms, however, there is one fundamental consideration that comes before all others: Is the workload primarily operational or analytic? Although most database products can be used for operational or analytic workloads, the market has been segmented between products targeting operational workloads, and those targeting analytic workloads for almost as long as there has been a database market.
Breaking into the database market as a new vendor is easier said than done given the dominance of the sector by established database and data management giants, as well as the cloud computing providers. We recently described the emergence of a new breed of distributed SQL database providers with products designed to address hybrid and multi-cloud data processing. These databases are architecturally and functionally differentiated from both the traditional relational incumbents (in terms of global scalability) and the NoSQL providers (in terms of the relational model and transactional consistency). Having differentiated functionality is the bare minimum a new database vendor needs to make itself known in a such a crowded market, however.