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Database infrastructure for the digital economy

Rising customer expectations are driving the need for companies to transform into Digital Economy businesses. Conditioned by web, mobile, and IoT experiences, today’s consumers expect more choice, speed and convenience than ever before. Across industries, rising customer expectations are driving companies to transform themselves in order to keep up with the competition. Here, I explore what this shift means for businesses and their IT infrastructures.

What’s the demand for a digital transformation?

The business world is undergoing massive change as industry after industry shifts to the digital economy. It’s an economy powered by the Internet and other 21st Century technologies including the cloud, mobile, social media, and big data. At the heart of every digital economy, business are its web, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications: they’re the primary way companies interact with customers today and run more and more of their business operations. The experiences that companies deliver via their apps largely determine how satisfied – and how loyal – customers will be. So naturally there is a surge in demand for innovative design supported by resilient infrastructure.

Why is NoSQL better suited than relational database technology to support the digital economy?

Relational databases were born in the era of mainframes and business applications – long before the Internet, the cloud, big data, mobile and now, the digital economy. As data we store has changed, so have the databases we use to store it. NoSQL databases have emerged as a result of the exponential growth of the Internet and the rise of web applications. These databases have been specifically engineered to meet a new generation of enterprise requirements including, the need to develop with agility and to operate at any scale.

How data is driving a digital transformation

Data is the new currency; vital to business success. In order to deliver the personalised, contextualised experiences that today’s customers demand, companies have to harness and utilise the data behind their business and applications. Only by deriving data-driven insights – at the moment of interaction – can a business recognise who they’re engaging with, understand what that customer will need or want, and deliver a great experience.

Those that can harness and utilise data, at scale and with blazing speed, to deliver exceptional customer experiences and create innovative products and services will succeed in the digital economy.

Transitioning from relational to NoSQL technology

Companies are now making a strategic decision that NoSQL is a fundamental part of their digital economy infrastructure, and they’re deploying it broadly. At a more granular level, enterprises are adopting NoSQL in order to address a new set of technical challenges and requirements that are the result of a number of major trends including:

  • Customers are becoming more demanding, meaning business processes must be fast, agile and at the forefront of their experience in order to cater to their needs
  • More customers are going online so businesses must scale to support thousands if not millions of users with consistently high performance, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • The Internet is connecting everything, meaning businesses are required to support a variety of applications and a huge number of users who create different data structures and expect real-time interactions
  • Big Data is getting bigger making it essential to store customer generated semi-structured/unstructured data from a variety of sources
  • Applications are moving to the cloud which reduces infrastructure costs, helping businesses achieve a faster time to market. Scaling on demand in this environment is also easier, enabling businesses to support more customers, store more data and operate their applications on a global scale with customers worldwide

The evolution of NoSQL

In 2016, more companies will begin to integrate operational databases like NoSQL as part of their data management platform. Big Data, a related set of technologies like Hadoop and its ecosystem, drives more batch-related applications, while NoSQL powers mission-critical, customer-facing applications that generate new sources of revenue for companies.

Global 2000 enterprises currently are deploying NoSQL for mission critical applications, including:

  • Tesco, Europe’s #1 retailer, deploys NoSQL for ecommerce, product catalogue, and other applications
  • Ryanair, the world’s busiest airline, uses NoSQL to power its mobile app serving over 3 million users
  • Marriott, a global leading lodging company with nearly 4,500 properties in 87 countries and territories around the world, is deploying NoSQL for its reservation system that books $38bn (£27bn) annually
  • Gannett, the #1 U.S. newspaper publisher, uses NoSQL for its proprietary content management system, Presto
  • GE, the world’s digital industrial company specialising in the generation, transmission, distribution, control, and utilisation of electricity, is deploying NoSQL for its Predix platform to help manage the Industrial Internet

For digital economy businesses, NoSQL provides the infrastructure needed to remain competitive across a huge number of applications including:

  • Supporting large numbers of concurrent users (tens of thousands, perhaps millions)
  • Delivering highly responsive experiences to a globally distributed base of users
  • Being always available – no downtime
  • Handling semi- and unstructured data
  • Rapidly adapting to changing requirements with frequent updates and new features

Who’s set to benefit from the digital economy?

Everyone. According to the European Commission the digital economy is 'the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth, and it holds huge potential for European entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).' What is this in numbers? Well, the digital economy is expected to reach €3.2trn (£2.4trn) in the G20 economies and already contributes up to eight per cent of GDP across Europe. So we all have a lot to gain from the digital economy.

The digital economy is powering growth, creating jobs and contributing to higher productivity gains which will have an impact on each one of us, at home and at work. With NoSQL, enterprises are better able to both develop with agility and operate at any scale - and to deliver the performance and availability required to meet the demands of digital economy businesses.

Ravi Mayuram, Senior Vice President at Couchbase