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Analyst: SQL Server Not Enough in Modern Data World

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Boris Evelson said existing approaches to business intelligence (BI) need updating in the modern world, and converging them with Big Data technologies requires more than traditional DBMS systems such as SQL Server can provide.

BI is alive and well in the age of Big Data and will continue to enjoy a thriving market, Evelson said, but the world is constantly changing and more innovation is needed.

"Some of the approaches in earlier-generation BI applications and platforms started to hit a ceiling a few years ago," Evelson said in a blog post today. "For example, SQL and SQL-based database management systems (DBMS), while mature, scalable and robust, are not agile and flexible enough in the modern world where change is the only constant."

But Big Data can provide those agile and flexible alternatives in a convergence with BI. "In order to address some of the limitations of more traditional and established BI technologies, Big Data offers more agile and flexible alternatives to democratize all data, such as NoSQL, among many others," the analyst said.

While the emergence of NoSQL data stores as a necessary replacement for traditional DBMS in some Big Data scenarios is well-known, the research firm's suggested solution is somewhat less obvious.

Forrester proposes using a flexible hub-and-spoke data platform to meld the BI and Big Data worlds, Evelson said in publicizing a new research report titled, "Boost Your Business Insights By Converging Big Data And BI." The research builds on previous themes explored by Forrester, such as a 2013 report that features the hub-and-spoke pattern prominently in a discussion of Big Data patterns.

The new report describes such an architecture as featuring the following components:
  • Hadoop-based data hubs/lakes to store and process majority of the enterprise data.
  • Data discovery accelerators to help profile and discover definitions and meanings in data sources.
  • Data governance that differentiates the processes you need to perform at the ingest, move, use and monitor stages.
  • BI that becomes one of many spokes of the Hadoop-based data hub.
  • A knowledge management portal to front-end multiple BI spokes.
  • Integrated metadata for data lineage and impact analysis.

Evelson isn't the first Forrester analyst to hint at big changes in the datacenter as Big Data matures and gets integrated with other tools.

"Enterprises that have a more complete data platform story, as well as a vision, are more likely to succeed in the coming years and also have a competitive advantage if they get onto this bandwagon of data platform, which includes Hadoop, Big Data, NoSQL as well as traditional databases -- all integrated," Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna told ADTMag last year. "Because that's where you see customers that are more successful, having all those data types together and managed together and provided together in a manner that will be helpful for businesses to operate."

That theme is echoed in this new research, which identifies three key areas upon which that the hub-and-spoke system should be based. These three layers are labeled cold, warm and hot, expressing the relationship between speedy and powerful analytics and associated expenses. The cold layer holds most enterprise data in the Hadoop framework, which can be slower than databases such as SQL Server but costs less to operate. The warm layer uses DBMS for somewhat faster queries at a somewhat more expensive price. The hot layer is for speedy analysis with in-memory tools where cost might not be as important as the benefits gleaned from real-time, interactive data processing.

"But at the end of the day, while new terms are important to emphasize the need to evolve, change and innovate, what's infinitely more imperative is that both strive to achieve the same goal: transform data into information and insight," Evelson said. "Alas, while many developers are beginning to recognize the synergies and overlaps between BI and Big Data, quite a few still consider and run both in individual silos."

Posted by David Ramel on 03/27/2015 at 12:25 PM

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