By Bryan Kirschner, Vice President, Strategy at DataStax
I was recently asked what I expected in the “database management” space over the rest of the decade. My immediate reaction was to adjust the question: where we’re headed—for those who aren’t there already—is all about managing data to good effect. Databases will be in the mix of tools deployed to make the right things happen, but the conversation will shift toward outcomes.
It’s a natural—if not inevitable—consequence of every company getting into the business of building what economists call “stocks” (your arsenal of data at rest) and enabling “flows” of data that cause smart actions in real time (think getting data where it needs to be at the moment that matters most). For technical practitioners, careers will be less “tool centric”—staking your claim, for example, as “an Oracle DBA”—and more about building a track record as a member of teams that creatively leverage an ecosystem to drive business impact.
It’s a proven pattern, already. The tech team at leading media company Conde Nast thoughtfully built a smart content platform that increased click-through rates 30%; they assembled a stack composed of Apache Cassandra, Kafka, and Elasticsearch (among other technologies) to make it happen. And, to emphasize the point about being creative, they concluded Cassandra was ideal to serve as the feature store, rather than a traditional database use case.
The capabilities leading organizations like Conde Nast have developed bring to bear best-of-breed technologies and are well-established enough to be detected in survey data. In our 2021 State of the Data Race report, which was based on responses from more than 500 organizations, we found that today’s data leaders are four times more likely to have deployed Apache Cassandra, Kubernetes, and two of any of the following open source technologies: Apache Spark, Apache Pulsar, Apache Kafka, or Elasticsearch. Companies using a robust open source software (OSS) data stack are two times more likely to attribute more than 20% of revenue to data and analytics.
Meanwhile, the open source data ecosystem that those technologies are a part of continues to evolve, with, for example, Apache Pulsar, Arrow, and Flink expanding the horizon of what’s possible.
As a CIO, you’d be well-served making sure your people have the permission and time to build bridges between how line-of-business owners might use data in new ways, and the new ways of using data that this ecosystem makes feasible.
From a vendor perspective, the message is loud and clear: we need to enable as many of your people as possible to be productive at tackling the use cases that will move the needle for your business—without infinite tool sprawl. Analyst firm Redmonk has a rundown on ways this is manifesting across database companies becoming more broadly “data” companies.
Their list includes my employer, DataStax, offering streaming capabilities using Pulsar alongside Cassandra. I’d add to it the thoughtful engineering work our teams have done to implement a document API in front of Cassandra, as well. When companies like ours work “outside in” to adapt to market needs, in conjunction with enterprises working “inside out” to find ways that horizontal infrastructure can be used to transform their customers’ experience…innovation always wins.
And that’s something to look forward to in the data management space.
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