How the new ‘Internet Enterprise’ is demanding a different type of infrastructure

The digital world is invading the physical world. Cars, thermostats, and even trips to the grocery store are changing from simple human interactions into full digital engagements. Businesses can no longer think in terms of traditional versus Internet markets. You become an Internet Enterprise or face extinction.

What’s an Internet Enterprise? It’s a company, powered by its data-driven DNA, that lets them engage with customers like never before. Think Google, Nest, Facebook, Uber. These companies make data its top priority, allowing them to innovate and move quickly.

What about companies that want to become Internet Enterprises? Well, making data a central focus requires rethinking how the heart of their technology infrastructure – the database foundation – is designed and deployed.

Relational to NoSQL databases, and beyond

For the last 25 years, the enterprise software infrastructure market has been dominated at the database layer by relational database (RDBMS) technologies, specifically Oracle. Today, RDBMS technology can no longer keep up with the velocity, volume, and variety of data being created and consumed.

> See also: Why digital is forcing IT to rethink infrastructure

The 'NoSQL' concept was the first crack in the traditional market that freed developers from the rigid rules of relational design.

Once systems needed to scale, attention turned to core architectures. The shift to data-centric thinking and the Internet Enterprise business model has since brought massive disruption to how databases are deployed across the enterprise.

Rise of the global database

Internet Enterprises started dealing with a high volume of data from the start and much of it did not fit well into existing relational systems. If you look at the history of databases, they can be divided into two camps – transactional or analytical.

Transactional databases power applications and analytical databases are used for business intelligence. There has always been a feedback loop between them. That loop used to take days if not weeks before results from analysis could be fed back into the online system.

Today, that analysis happens in real-time to provide more relevant results for the customer in their recommendations and lead to more effective personalisation.

The nature of the Internet Enterprise requires an always-on mentality that is radically different from anything companies had previously experienced. This meant companies had to meet never-before-seen performance demands while shifting their mindset from 'disaster recovery' to 'disaster avoidance' at the same time.

The solution is to create a truly distributed, read-anywhere/write-anywhere database whose architecture allows companies to push data geographically close to endpoints – which is critical for performance.

Once you are free from a single data center, catastrophic disconnections from machines, or even entire regions and countries, will not have any noticeable impact on the transactional database backbone.

Roadmap toward the internet enterprise

To transform your database infrastructure into something that can support the Internet Enterprise business model, you need to wisely think through some larger key aspects.

First, you need a culture of people focused on data as a strategic weapon. People are the most valuable asset that any company can have as well as the hardest to replace. Invest your time in creating environments in which the people on your team can be successful.

And when they’re successful, take measures to ensure they are protected and well taken care of. People are the most important asset on your road toward becoming an Internet Enterprise.

Second, you need to equip your team with the right tools to handle the data that they are collecting. As big data becomes bigger, companies are increasingly relying on Hadoop and leading NoSQL databases like Apache Cassandra.

Traditional tools like relational databases and data warehouses are being replaced. You need to have the right tools in place to collect it, so figure out what works best. Once these tools are in place, use them to their fullest potential.

Lastly, you need to create and encourage a culture of rapid iteration. As you learn more from your data, create a strong and fast feedback loop. Think about the transactional feedback loop.

 > See also: 3 steps to future-proofing a business with digital transformation

The transactional feedback loop involves the collection of data, followed by immediate analysis or searching that drives a behavioral change in the moment. With all the data that you’re collecting, listen to it. Listen to the data and where it takes you to make changes quickly to better your business.

Companies that were not born in the data age have to to adapt rapidly to a changing world. Today’s forward-looking companies must challenge long-held assumptions about how they develop and deliver products and services with an eye toward competitive edge.

Only by shifting from old enterprise architectures can businesses innovate in new ways and create expanding and differentiated market opportunities in today’s digital marketplace.

Sourced from Matt Pfeil, Co-founder and Chief Customer Office, DataStax

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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