5 reasons why the database is dead

An abstract image of a database
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)

Today’s software applications are collecting more high-volume data than ever before, and making sense of that data is key to building innovative customer experiences and gaining a competitive advantage. On one hand, businesses are dealing with this growing abundance of data, while on the other hand, compute and storage are getting cheaper and compute is becoming more powerful. When all of this is put together in the modern world, one thing has become clear: data is eating software. That is, data is now the driving force behind great software applications and in today’s landscape, companies that aren’t actively working to transform into software companies run the risk of getting replaced by one.

Database technology is at the crux of this. Software is powered by great databases, and the role of the database is only increasing due to the proliferation of digital technology, the growth of the internet, and the increasing reliance on data-driven decision making. Not only that, but the ways in which developers are using them is changing. Due to industry shifts, such as the shift from on-prem to moving data infrastructure to the cloud, the way we think about the database needs to be reinvented. Here are five reasons why the traditional concept of a database is ‘dead’ and why it matters.

Ajay Kulkarni

CEO, and co-founder of Timescale.

Reason 1: Provisioning storage and compute - a burden no more

In today's fast-paced development landscape, the last thing developers want is to deal with the intricacies of managing databases, they just want something that works. Think of it like Wi-Fi - if it’s something we’re worried about as we work throughout the day, something is probably wrong. Databases have evolved into complex ecosystems, far removed from their predecessors of decades past. 

They’ve gone from being one place where companies store all their data to now, using multiple places to store it -- all during different stages that now all connect. Modern trends in technology are all about abstracting away the complexities of managing compute and storage resources, enabling developers to focus on what truly matters - building innovative applications.

Reason 2: The lines between types of data stores are blurring

The advent of cloud computing has blurred the lines separating traditional databases, data warehouses, and archives. Cloud services and technologies have reshaped how data is managed, stored, and analyzed. Through the cloud, developers have access to flexible storage tiers, scalable cloud databases and data warehouses, and seamless integration of data lakes and data warehouses.

This shift is a reflection of a more flexible, adaptable approach to data management. It's a testament to the fact that the traditional database model can no longer keep pace with the dynamic nature of modern data.

Reason 3: The era of multiple databases

In the past, companies managed a single, monolithic database. However, today’s landscape demands an entirely different approach. Businesses now oversee a fleet of databases, each serving various services and stages in the development lifecycle. These databases are often ephemeral, spun up for specific tasks like development, testing and staging, and then spun down. This evolution underscores that the focus has shifted from simply having a database in the cloud to managing a comprehensive cloud IT infrastructure. This transition is critical for harnessing the power of data in an agile and scalable manner.

Reason 4: Cloud computing changes the game

The rise of cloud computing has completely transformed the traditional business model for software and database services. In the traditional database business model, a company builds software, ships it and the customer runs it. This means that businesses are just providing the pieces and the customer has to pay for the infrastructure plus the software. 

With cloud computing, companies now provide both, enabling these cloud services to become an integral part of a customer’s cost structure, forming a significant portion of their cost of goods sold (COGS). This shift challenges companies to not only innovate but also to optimize costs and pass those savings to customers. It's a shift from merely selling software to providing a holistic, cost-effective service that integrates both software and infrastructure.

The database, once a standalone entity, is now an integral part of the cloud computing revolution. As cloud providers continue to refine their database offerings, businesses are presented with an opportunity to shift their focus from managing infrastructure to harnessing the power of data. The demise of the traditional database ushers in a new era where data management is not just a necessity but a strategic advantage.

Reason 5: Customer service matters more than ever in the cloud

The cloud model not only changes how software is delivered and operated but also places an increased emphasis on customer service and ongoing support. In the traditional software model, once the software is sold or licensed, the responsibility of operating and maintaining it fell on the customer.

With cloud services, the provider takes on the operational responsibilities, including infrastructure management, updates and maintenance. This shift transforms companies into innovators and providers of exceptional customer service. In the era of cloud computing, ensuring customer satisfaction is paramount.

In conclusion, the traditional concept of a database has undergone a radical transformation. It’s no longer a static repository but a dynamic catalyst for innovation, cost-efficiency, and customer satisfaction. The cloud-driven metamorphosis of databases beckons companies to embrace change and harness the power of reinvention. In a data-centric world, the redefined database is the key to unlocking limitless possibilities. Embrace the future or risk being left behind.

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Ajay Kulkarni, CEO, and co-founder of Timescale.