Relational databases ‘here to stay’ in the enterprise amid greater cloud and data complexity


Reports of the death of the relational database have been greatly exaggerated – at least in the enterprise.

According to a new study from Progress Software – the company’s latest annual data connectivity report – while the on-premises relational database behemoths of SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle have declined year on year, the cloud push is not yet forthcoming for mission-critical workloads.

55% of the more than 1,400 business and IT professionals surveyed said they or their customers were currently using SQL, compared with 40% for MySQL and 37% for Oracle. “For important data, there is no substitute for relational databases,” the report noted.

“Modern options such as big data, NoSQL still aren’t the right fit for all business needs, with analytical tooling for these modern databases still in its infancy,” the report added. “Thus RDBMS databases are keeping pace and are here to stay in the enterprise for the foreseeable future.”

Indeed, enterprise decision makers see cloud and NoSQL databases as there to solve alternative problems for businesses, such as enabling greater fluidity across different platforms and accelerated edge to cloud workloads.

In comparison, one in three (32%) organisations polled said they did not use any big data platforms or interfaces. Perhaps surprisingly, Amazon S3 only polled 19% of the vote, with a further 5% saying they plan to use it in the coming two years. As for the other big data vendors, Hadoop Hive (17%) was the most popular, ahead of Spark SQL (10%) and Hortonworks (7%).

When it came to NoSQL, MongoDB (27% currently supported, 7% plan to adopt) was by far the most popular technology among respondents. Regular readers of this publication will be aware of the changing atmosphere surrounding several of the leading open source providers. Towards the end of last year Confluent – which recently secured a $2.5 billion valuation – changed its licensing terms with one eye on the largest cloud vendors running software as a service through their technology. MongoDB has done the same thing, as has Redis Labs, used by 7% of those polled by Progress.

Speaking of which, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the most popular cloud provider according to survey respondents, cited by 44% of those polled. Microsoft Azure (39%) was not far behind, until a significant gap to VMware (22%) and Google Cloud (18%). Only 8% of respondents were IBM houses. AWS had seen a 12% uptick year on year, with Azure (+7%) and GCP (+3%) the others to see growth.

Underpinning all the data these organisations pick up, whether they use relational or non-relational databases to structure it, is business intelligence. Organisations use on average 2.5 different BI reporting tools, with Tableau usage increasing the most. Excel (42%) was perhaps not surprisingly the most popular tool, ahead of Microsoft BI Platform (26%), Tableau (22%) and Power BI (18%), showcasing a Microsoft-heavy top list. The report noted how the need for data visualisation has grown significantly, as well as embedded analytics.

“As enterprises grow, a wide variety of data is produced, consumed and stored at different parts of the organisation. The challenge is to effectively manage and leverage the volume, variety and velocity of data,” the report concluded. “At a time when budgets and resources remain tight, the old approach of trying constantly to increase expenditures on infrastructure and hardware assets can’t keep pace.

“The success of a business lies in its seamless data connectivity and integration technology in an increasingly hybrid cloud/on-premises world.”

You can read the full report here (email required).

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