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Databases are many things--critical, complex, expensive--and IT's long had a love-hate relationship with them. But lately the pendulum is swinging into dissatisfaction territory, says our InformationWeek 2012 State of Database Technology Survey of 760 respondents, all of whom are involved with their companies' database strategies. The sentiment is that vendors need to step up and earn their money by helping deal with problems including larger data volumes, more-fluid data relationships, thornier integration--and even, in some cases, barely contained chaos. One respondent faulted our survey because we assume there's a primary database. "There is no primary database in our company. Databases are designed by function, with over 10,000 various instances." Yikes.
The problem is that the data structures that have served us effectively for more than 40 years are showing their age. Changes to how our businesses use information, as well as the sheer amount of data we manage, have led to new hosting and structuring options, such as NoSQL, semantic data stores, and hosted warehouse environments. Our survey shows some of these are gaining traction, while others, unfortunately, remain largely ignored. Sometimes, as with cloud or virtualization, there are good reasons for caution. But in other cases, particularly trying lower-cost relational database management systems and moving to commodity hardware, the skeptics are passing on technology that could cut costs while increasing satisfaction.
And cost is a big source of discontent: Just 11% say they're very satisfied with how they're paying for their databases. While most IT teams still consider Oracle the gold-standard relational database, licensing based on CPUs and cores is a major source of stress.
Our advice if you're feeling pinched:
>> Consider a lower-cost but still enterprise-ready RDBMS, such as Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, or PostgreSQL, for select uses. An ecosystem of third-party products, from ETL to reporting, can help overcome performance limitations. Restrict use of proprietary databases to only those mission-critical applications that demand that level of performance and accountability--and this applies even if you have a site license, as we discuss in our full report.
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