Robin Schumacher

Do You Really Want To Be In The Database Business?

By Robin SchumacherNovember 18, 2013

An interesting article recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal that described a couple of studies conducted by Thomas Davenport, a professor at Babson college, on why large modern businesses are using big data software from software vendors vs. rolling their own solutions with pure open source implementations. Naturally, you’d think it had something to do with larger enterprises having the bankroll to purchase software whereas startups have little capital to work with.

But that wasn’t the case.

The reason was that “Big firms are more likely to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their software, and are more focused on the productivity of their data scientists and analysts.”

Yes, there’s no question that using open source software can deliver great savings over sticker-shock software like Oracle (e.g. our DataStax Enterprise subscriptions run anywhere from 80-90% less than Oracle). But big picture savings requires looking at more than just the cost of software – it also necessitates examining staff productivity where the use of big data software is concerned.

Davenport says, “On the big company side, however, cost and productivity concerns were often mentioned. Even huge, successful companies like GE and P&G said that close partnerships with vendor firms allow them to move much more quickly and be much more productive at lower cost.”

Here at DataStax, we see the same thing. Let me quickly describe how we make that happen.

The DataStax Way

DataStax is an open source company. We help drive Apache Cassandra and continue to deliver functionality that keeps Cassandra at the top of the massively scalable NoSQL database heap.

We also deliver free open source drivers with advanced functionality and free tools like our new DevCenter that makes working with Cassandra very easy, along with free online training that helps ensure your success with the software.

DataStax is also a commercial company, with our model being one that includes Cassandra certification, commercial extensions, plug-in’s, and built-in system services for the database, advanced admin and monitoring solutions for worry-free management, and expert support and professional services that have your back.

We don’t believe in the “F” word (‘fork’) at DataStax. Instead, we develop API’s and plug-in’s to Cassandra that facilitates the creation of advanced functionality for enterprise-class environments that all can take advantage of.

For example – take security. We delivered basic security to the open source community, and created advanced security plug-in’s for the enterprise. Do you want to create your own data encryption capabilities, data auditing functionality, or integration with third party security packages? You can do that if you’d like in open source Cassandra or you can use our pre-built plug-in’s that do all of that for you in DataStax Enterprise.

Another example is our just introduced DataStax Management Services. If you want to create your own database services to do things like capacity planning, you certainly can, or you can flip a single switch in our platform that expertly handles that critical discipline for you.

The business question is which will you do: Spend lots of time to save some money or spend a little money to save a whole lot of time? Davenport’s study seems to indicate that many smart businesses are doing the latter and realizing strong benefits from it.

OK, maybe you have the staff that can build your TV sets from scratch, but ask yourself the question: is that the best use of their time?

What Business Do You Want To Be In?

I can tell you that even the most sophisticated shops I visit aren’t interested in being in the database business. They’re fine to spend a little money to get value in return, but the problem to date has been that NoSQL vendors haven’t been giving them the enterprise functionality they’ve needed so, out of necessity, they’ve had to roll their own.

This isn’t something unique to open source or NoSQL, but is standard fare in the evolution of almost any piece of software. For example, the first set of Oracle monitoring software I wrote and sold to a database tools company was born out of my need to do Oracle performance monitoring in a way that no vendor could deliver at the time.

The good news for NoSQL is the type of functionality needed for enterprise production environments is now being delivered. We’re not fully there yet, but at least we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

At DataStax, we’re working hard to keep you focused on your core business whether that be financial, retail, healthcare, energy, etc., and out of the database business. That’s our job, and one we want to do well for you.

Lastly, even if you are a startup with little cash to spare, don’t worry – our startups program will give you the best of both worlds: an enterprise class NoSQL platform at little to no cost.

Download DataStax Enterprise today, get your company out of the database business, and instead focus your time, energy and people on driving your actual business. In just a short time, you’ll see terrific paybacks and realize that spending just a little money to get a lot of value makes good sense.



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