When joining Ventana Research, I noted that the need to be more data-driven has become a mantra among large and small organizations alike. Data-driven organizations stand to gain competitive advantage, responding faster to worker and customer demands for more innovative, data-rich applications and personalized experiences. Being data-driven is clearly something to aspire to. However, it is also a somewhat vague concept without clear definition. We know data-driven organizations when we see them — the likes of Airbnb, DoorDash, ING Bank, Netflix, Spotify, and Uber are often cited as examples — but it is not necessarily clear what separates the data-driven from the rest. Data has been used in decision-making processes for thousands of years, and no business operates without some form of data processing and analytics. As such, although many organizations may aspire to be more data-driven, identifying and defining the steps required to achieve that goal are not necessarily easy. In this Analyst Perspective, I will outline the four key traits that I believe are required for a company to be considered data-driven.
Topics: embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data, Digital Technology, natural language processing, data lakes, AI and Machine Learning, data operations, Streaming Analytics, digital business, data platforms, Analytics & Data, Streaming Data & Events
I recently wrote about the growing range of use cases for which NoSQL databases can be considered, given increased breadth and depth of functionality available from providers of the various non-relational data platforms. As I noted, one category of NoSQL databases — graph databases — are inherently suitable for use cases that rely on relationships, such as social media, fraud detection and recommendation engines, since the graph data model represents the entities and values and also the relationships between them. The native representation of relationships can also be significant in surfacing “features” for use in machine learning modeling. There has been a concerted effort in recent years by graph database providers, including TigerGraph, to encourage and facilitate the use of graph databases by data scientists to support the development, testing and deployment of machine learning models.
I previously described the concept of hydroanalytic data platforms, which combine the structured data processing and analytics acceleration capabilities associated with data warehousing with the low-cost and multi-structured data storage advantages of the data lake. One of the key enablers of this approach is interactive SQL query engine functionality, which facilitates the use of existing business intelligence (BI) and data science tools to analyze data in data lakes. Interactive SQL query engines have been in use for several years — many of the capabilities were initially used to accelerate analytics on Hadoop — but have evolved along with data lake initiatives to enable analysis of data in cloud object storage. The open source Presto project is one of the most prominent interactive SQL query engines and has been adopted by some of the largest digital-native organizations. Presto managed-services provider Ahana is on a mission to bring the advantages of Presto to the masses.
I previously explained how the data lakehouse is one of two primary approaches being adopted to deliver what I have called a hydroanalytic data platform. Hydroanalytics involves the combination of data warehouse and data lake functionality to enable and accelerate analysis of data in cloud storage services. The term data lakehouse has been rapidly adopted by several vendors in recent years to describe an environment in which data warehousing functionality is integrated into the data lake environment, rather than coexisting alongside. One of the vendors that has embraced the data lakehouse concept and terminology is Dremio, which recently launched the general availability of its Dremio Cloud data lakehouse platform.
As I recently described, it is anticipated that the majority of database workloads will continue to be served by specialist data platforms targeting operational and analytic workloads, albeit with growing demand for hybrid data processing use-cases and functionality. Specialist operational and analytic data platforms have historically been the since preferred option, but there have always been general-purpose databases that could be used for both analytic and operational workloads, with tuning and extensions to meet the specific requirements of each.
I recently wrote about the potential benefits of data mesh. As I noted, data mesh is not a product that can be acquired, or even a technical architecture that can be built. It’s an organizational and cultural approach to data ownership, access and governance. While the concept of data mesh is agnostic to the technology used to implement it, technology is clearly an enabler for data mesh. For many organizations, new technological investment and evolution will be required to facilitate adoption of data mesh. Meanwhile, the concept of the data fabric, a technology-driven approach to managing and governing data across distributed environments, is rising in popularity. Although I previously touched on some of the technologies that might be applicable to data mesh, it is worth diving deeper into the data architecture implications of data mesh, and the potential overlap with data fabric.
I recently described the use cases driving interest in hybrid data processing capabilities that enable analysis of data in an operational data platform without impacting operational application performance or requiring data to be extracted to an external analytic data platform. Hybrid data processing functionality is becoming increasingly attractive to aid the development of intelligent applications infused with personalization and artificial intelligence-driven recommendations. These applications can be used to improve customer service; engagement, detect and prevent fraud; and increase operational efficiency. Several database providers now offer hybrid data processing capabilities to support these application requirements. One of the vendors addressing this opportunity is SingleStore.
The server is a key component of enterprise computing, providing the functional compute resources required to support software applications. Historically, the server was so fundamentally important that it – along with the processor, or processor core – was also a definitional unit by which software was measured, priced and sold. That changed with the advent of cloud-based service delivery and consumption models.
Over a decade ago, I coined the term NewSQL to describe the new breed of horizontally scalable, relational database products. The term was adopted by a variety of vendors that sought to combine the transactional consistency of the relational database model with elastic, cloud-native scalability. Many of the early NewSQL vendors struggled to gain traction, however, and were either acquired or ceased operations before they could make an impact in the crowded operational data platforms market. Nonetheless, the potential benefits of data platforms that span both on-premises and cloud resources remain. As I recently noted, many of the new operational database vendors have now adopted the term “distributed SQL” to describe their offerings. In addition to new terminology, a key trend that separates distributed SQL vendors from the NewSQL providers that preceded them is a greater focus on developers, laying the foundation for the next generation of applications that will depend on horizontally scalable, relational-database functionality. Yugabyte is a case in point.
I recently described how the operational data platforms sector is in a state of flux. There are multiple trends at play, including the increasing need for hybrid and multicloud data platforms, the evolution of NoSQL database functionality and applicable use-cases, and the drivers for hybrid data processing. The past decade has seen significant change in the emergence of new vendors, data models and architectures as well as new deployment and consumption approaches. As organizations adopted strategies to address these new options, a few things remained constant – one being the influence and importance of Oracle. The company’s database business continues to be a core focus of innovation, evolution and differentiation, even as it expanded its portfolio to address cloud applications and infrastructure.