The amount of data we deal with every day seems to have grown from a gentle trickle into a thunderous waterfall. Today, our devices generate massive amounts of qualitative and quantitative data – more than 2.7 Zetabytes of data exists in the digital universe. A big part of this increase can, of course, be attributed to new technological trends.
The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), social media and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies have all opened the door to a new world of high-speed data flows. If utilised properly, these can add tangible business benefits, but this can only be achieved by using the right tools.
Let me give you an example. There’s no doubt that extracting information from data flows via real-time analysis can not only help to increase business agility, but also to improve performance as a consequence.
The challenge faced by many businesses comes in attempting to achieve the same benefits using legacy architecture that isn’t able to meet these demands, particularly when it comes to databases. Without the right infrastructure in place to handle the required volume of data, businesses can experience inefficiencies that can prevent them from exploiting their full potential.
Put simply, there are three challenges that those using existing database architecture have to deal with in the face of this new influx of data: how legacy infrastructure can ingest data flowing at this speed; how legacy infrastructure can analyse data in real time (for example, how can it analyse real-time sensor readings from a wind turbine to determine if the blade angle of attack needs to be adjusted?); and how business users can access this information.
NoSQL, no problems
The solution to all of these challenges is clear: a document database. The flexible data model of document databases, or NoSQL databases, allows for rapid accessing, processing and storing of unstructured data.
Moreover, its scalability enables it to store more information as more and more devices are connected to the internet. Its performance also ensures that the database is no longer the bottleneck, which leads to greater efficiency as a direct result. The ability to store very large operational datasets broadens the window for data analysis. This puts companies in the position to make informed business decisions fast.
Today, document databases are used in many industries from social and mobile gaming to retail to telecommunications to industrial. Not only are they well suited to ingesting machine data but also to providing data access to users.
For businesses, that means they have a cost effective data storage and analysis solution at their fingertips – one that expands with the company as it grows. Organisations can collect information on their products, supply chains, logistics, customers and other stakeholders to streamline their business operations. This also enables them to prevent events that might have negative effects on profits such as loss of production. Apart from that, the business intelligence gained from big data analysis allows companies to investigate customer and market behaviour and adapt their future planning accordingly.
To give you an example of this in action, Skyscanner, a price comparison website for flights, cars and hotels, faced challenges when it came to managing unstructured data flows. Over the years, the influx of data has increased greatly and the company had to deal with complex data sets to provide the best results for its customers in real-time.
With a few hundred million live flight queries per month, Skyscanner realised that it needed a quick, flexible and most importantly, easily scalable solution and decided to work with a NoSQL database. As a result, they now have a database that scales horizontally and allows them to deal with huge amounts of unstructured and volatile data flows without interruption.
Apart from flexibility and scalability, NoSQL has another key advantage: it is easy to implement and therefore allows companies to increase and maximise profits with minimal investment. Businesses that have to deal with a high-speed data waterfall need a fool proof solution that will keep them afloat and help them to navigate the stormy waters of big data.
Sourced from Shane Johnson, senior product marketing manager, Couchbase