Database Evaluation: Key Functions to Consider Right Now
This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, DataStax Chief Product Officer Ed Anuff offers his take on why database evaluation is the most important part of the vendor selection process.
In today’s fast-paced world, everyone not only prefers but expects, for apps to meet them at the speed of life. Mobile apps have become an essential part of every business as they look to identify, retain, and connect with customers; it is estimated that 750 million new apps and services will be created between 2023 and 2025.
Behind every consumer’s simple experience of ordering a coffee for pickup or booking a flight via mobile app, is a complex tech stack with real-time data as the backbone. As businesses evolve to meet rapidly shifting consumer demands, ensuring your business has a flexible, open stack has never been more important. The good news is the right technology exists to meet consumers’ needs and expectations of a smart, real-time, seamless experience.
Harnessing this technology begins with selecting the right database that will meet the needs of today, but be powerful enough to scale as applications and their users grow. Successful enterprises now have the ability and duty to select a database that meets the real-time demands of the business. Not all databases are created equally; the ideal database must be able to accommodate and process a large volume of both data in motion and data at rest and scale with low latency.
The real-time data use cases are limitless and include things like in-the-moment personalized recommendations, the ability for consumers to use accumulated loyalty points for their free coffee, IoT devices that share real-time data about which crops are in need of water, and instantaneous inventory and supply chain data to understand what products are almost out of stock.
To take advantage of real-time data and translate that into a seamless and instantaneous customer experience, it is critical to select a purpose-built database that is optimized for modern data applications.
Functions to Consider During Database Evaluation
You must look at some notable features and functions when deciding on a database. Questions you should consider include will the database work within the cloud and can it support multiple clouds? How much data can the database accommodate and is it scalable? Can the database simultaneously process and analyze data at rest and streaming data? And is it Kubernetes based for today’s microservices?
The good news is all the required functionality for a successful database can be found in cloud-native, distributed databases. Cloud-native databases are designed to epitomize scalability, elasticity, resiliency, observability, and automation. A cloud-native database is best defined as a database that is designed with cloud-native principles in mind, not reverse-engineered to work within a cloud. They are also becoming increasingly popular as they are based on a pay-as-you-go model and can quickly accelerate from infrastructure to prototype, develop, test, and deliver new applications and features.
There are myriad benefits to distributed databases, especially when every consumer relies on data to keep their life moving in real-time. Can a customer travel out of the country and still maximize the ease and efficiency of the app they rely on? A globally distributed database allows you to seamlessly meet the needs of your customers, no matter where they are located. It is also advantageous to consider an open-source database as a community of engineers is integral in providing code commits, bug fixes, testing and documentation, furthering optimization.
Many companies underestimate the amount of data their database needs to handle. By focusing solely on your data volume needs today, it is easy to overlook how much your data will grow as new innovations in apps are realized. Any new app is only as useful as the amount of data it can process, so it is imperative that your database is scalable and has a low latency no matter the data’s location around the globe.
The world relies on the real-time processing of large amounts of data to meet consumer needs; think global online banking services and airline booking systems, to name just a few. A prime example of this is Priceline, the online travel booking service. For more than 20 years, Priceline has been helping customers find the best deals on hotels, cars, and flights.
Delivering a fast and frictionless experience for their customers starts with choosing the optimal database. To achieve this, Priceline relies on open-source database technology that captures real-time customer events with historical booking data allowing for more valuable customer insights, greater personalization, and better travel recommendations. A high-powered, low-latency, scalable database is critical to their ongoing success.
Security is also a top priority for all modern cloud applications. Data needs to be secure and protected as it travels from customers to the database and within nodes so that it cannot be intercepted and stolen. The ability to proactively prevent unauthorized access to sensitive Personal Identifiable Information (PII) data and mitigate exposure in the event of a breach is of paramount importance. A secure database should at the very least include internal and external authentication and Single Sign-On (SSO) capabilities, permission management, data encryption and data auditing.
Finally, while choosing the right type of database is essential to your business, you must also keep developers in mind. Developers are a necessity for continued innovation and we are currently witnessing a developer shortage coupled with the ever-increasing demand. Developers now more than ever can choose which companies they work for. It is important to consider your database from a developer’s standpoint; is it clunky and difficult to use? If so, that affects your bottom line, as developers will be less likely to want to work within your organization, resulting in less productivity and innovation. Developers are essential to your success and to keep pace, it is important that your database is developer-friendly and maximizes productivity, and includes things like modern APIs to spin up new applications quickly.
An Ideal Database Activates Data in Real-Time
The optimal database provides speed and resiliency, supporting operations that require real-time access to large volumes of rapidly evolving data. A distributed, cloud-native database makes it simple for you to expand and develop always-on, instantaneous applications that exceed customers’ expectations; anytime, anywhere.