DBAs More Concerned with Cloud, Virtualization than Big Data

Loraine Lawson
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The Challenges of Gaining Useful Insight into Data

Structured data is still king, but that may be in part because many organizations simply aren’t even trying to manage unstructured data, a just-released report by Dell reveals.

Dell commissioned Unisphere Research to query those who manage data at North American companies. The survey’s 300 respondents were primarily DBAs, with more than 60 percent coming from large organizations. The results are covered in “The Real World of the Database Administrator,” which Dell made available as a free download today.

Despite the press over Hadoop and unstructured data, DBAs say structured data is still the focus for most DBAs. More than two-thirds reported that structured data represented at least 75 percent of the data being managed. When it came to unstructured data, which can include everything from text such as email and social media content to machine logs, less than 12 percent said they believe the data’s growth rate exceeds 50 percent annually.

But that may be in part because many organizations simply aren’t keeping tabs on unstructured data. One-third of those surveyed said their organizations do not actively manage unstructured data or know how fast unstructured data is growing within their organizations.


“This can be taken as evidence that in many organizations, unstructured data may still be outside normal data management processes,” the report notes.

I asked John Whittaker, Dell Software’s executive director for information management, if perhaps DBAs didn’t know about unstructured data because it fell outside their domain.

“Based on the DBA’s responses, that is not the case,” Whittaker said. “Seventy percent had reported using Mongo DB in environments that had 100 databases or more. Similarly, for Hadoop, 60 percent had experience.”

Dell was also surprised by the findings: Whittaker said the company had anticipated more growth in Big Data. What it discovered is that traditional structured data is growing right alongside the new data types.

Data Management

Whittaker said Dell sees the findings as confirmation of its own enterprise software strategy, which is to support homogenous data environments. While the company began as a hardware company, it began adding enterprise software through acquisitions nearly five years ago. In 2010, it acquired cloud integration pureplay Boomi, followed by Quest in 2012. Quest brought to the table two key solutions: Toad, a database management tool, and SharePlex, a data replication tool that supports real-time analytics. Then last year, Dell added advanced analytics software company StatSoft.

“It agrees with the strategy that we started many years ago, recognizing the reality that the era of homogenous data systems are long gone, it is going to be a hybrid data world, and we should adopt a design strategy in all of our technology that would support an all data hybrid environment,” Whittaker said. “We’re seeing it in the survey, playing out. DBAs are becoming multilingual, where they are supporting multiple data sources in their environment. You’re seeing structured and unstructured data platforms existing side by side and thriving.”

Other key data-related findings in the report:

  • Internal data is the primary source of unstructured data growth, with the majority (50.41) coming from internally generated documents. Other sources of unstructured data include email (35.5 percent); machine-generated data (31.4 percent); other Internet sources of data such as the web (30.58 percent); new types of data such as video and audio (29.34 percent); social media, (25.62 percent); and other (4 percent).
  • Meanwhile, the growth in structured data was attributed to transactional data (83 percent); management data such as ERP systems (51.78 percent); financial data (40.32 percent); structured data from Internet sources (24.9 percent); and other (3 percent).
  • Two-thirds of respondents said their overall data growth rate is between 10 and 50 percent annually.
  • Cloud (64.32 percent) and virtualization (48.02 percent) outranked Big Data (47.14 percent), NoSQL (33.04 percent) and Hadoop (29.96 percent) as the new technologies that DBAs say will have the biggest impact on the organization over the next few years.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.



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