• Survey shows structured data represents at least 75 percent of data under management for the majority of organizations
  • Nearly one-third of companies surveyed still don’t actively manage unstructured data
  • Hadoop and NoSQL seen as gaining traction among larger organizations
  • Support for new analytical use cases cited as most important reason for adopting a new database management system

Dell Software today announced findings of a survey of database deployments showing that while unstructured data types and new database management systems play an increasing role in the modern data ecosystem, structured data in relational database management systems (RDBMS) remains the foundation of the information infrastructure in most companies. Although advancements in the ability to capture, store, retrieve and analyze new forms of unstructured data have garnered significant attention, the Dell survey indicates that most organizations continue to focus primarily on managing structured data, and will do so for the foreseeable future.

To find out more about the latest trends in data management, as well as gain insight into the adoption rates of Hadoop, NoSQL, and other modern database management technologies, Dell Software commissioned Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., to conduct a survey of database administrators (DBAs) and others charged with managing corporate data. According to the survey, while management of unstructured data will likely become more prevalent as advanced analytics initiatives continue to gain traction, structured data still makes up 75 percent of data under management for more than two-thirds of organizations, with nearly one-third of organizations not yet actively managing unstructured data at all.

Structured Data, Relational Databases Still Dominant

While there has been widespread industry interest in capturing and managing unstructured and semi-structured data, Dell’s survey results show that structured data and traditional RDBMS systems remain the focal point of most organizations’ information management efforts. Though the survey reveals a relative diversity of database platforms in use across organizations, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server remain the most common platforms organizations use to support mission-critical data. According to the survey, approximately 78 percent of respondents indicated that they were running mission-critical data on Oracle, while 72 percent said they were using Microsoft SQL Server as a platform for their mission-critical data. Beyond the top two, MySQL, IBM DB2, and MongoDB represented the next most popular database management systems.

Moreover, although the growth of unstructured data has garnered most of the attention, Dell’s survey shows structured data growing at an even faster rate. While more than one-third of respondents indicated that structured data is growing at a rate of 25 percent or more annually, fewer than 30 percent of respondents said the same about their unstructured data. Additional findings of note related to data growth include:

  • 83 percent of organizations cite growth in transactional data (including e-commerce) as one of the most important sources of structured data growth within their organization, with 51 percent also citing growth in management data, such as ERP systems.
  • Although there is an increasing industry focus on the proliferation of social data, an increase in the creation of internally generated documents was seen as the top driver of unstructured data growth, identified by more than 50 percent of respondents.

Room to Grow for NoSQL and Hadoop

Although respondents indicated interest in adding more database management systems to achieve a multitude of benefits, the adoption of technologies such as NoSQL and Hadoop is not yet truly widespread. Only 10 percent of respondents mentioned they are currently using or deploying a NoSQL database, while 56 percent of respondents claim their companies do not have plans to adopt one within the next three years. The results are similar for Hadoop. Approximately 20 percent of organizations surveyed are currently using or deploying Hadoop, with 57 percent indicating their companies have no plans to incorporate Hadoop technology within the next three years.

However, the survey does provide many indicators that more widespread adoption of these newer platforms may in fact be soon to come. The need to support new analytical use cases, which increasingly involves unstructured data and big data technologies, was cited as the most important factor driving adoption of new database management systems, with the need for greater flexibility and performance closely behind.

In addition, the appearance of MongoDB as one of the five most commonly used systems indicates a growing acceptance of NoSQL technology. The indicators are particularly strong for larger, enterprise organizations. Of note:

  • Approximately 70 percent of respondents using MongoDB are running more than 100 databases, 30 percent are running more than 500 databases, and nearly 60 percent work for companies with more than 5,000 employees.
  • Similarly, 60 percent of respondents currently using Hadoop are running more than 100 databases, 45 percent are running more than 500 databases, and approximately two-thirds work for companies with more than 1,000 employees.

The Evolving Role of the Database Administrator

As modern information infrastructure continues to evolve, so too will the role of the DBA. According to the Dell survey, a growing number of DBAs are now responsible for managing both relational and non-relational database technologies, a trend that will likely continue as Hadoop and NoSQL become more common in the enterprise. For example:

    • Among respondents in companies with both Hadoop and NoSQL installed, DBAs are responsible for managing the non-relational technologies 72 percent of the time.
    • Roughly 70 percent of the respondents said the DBAs in their organizations were responsible for managing databases from at least two vendors, while 7 percent indicated they were responsible for managing databases from five or more vendors.
    • Almost half of the DBAs manage more than 25 database instances each, and almost 10 percent manage more than 100 database instances each.

John Whittaker, executive director of product marketing, information management, Dell Software

"Dell’s survey shows once again that successful information management is not just about managing big data or small data, but about managing all data – regardless of its size, type or location. While big data and related technologies have garnered most of the hype, traditional structured data and RDBMS technologies continue to play an integral role in the data management strategies of organizations large and small. As such, organizations that break down silos and focus on managing, integrating and analyzing all of their data will be the ones best positioned to benefit from the opportunity afforded by the modern data economy."

About the Survey

Dell Software commissioned Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, to survey 300 database administrators and others charged with managing corporate data. The 300 respondents represented a wide range of companies in terms of the size and industry. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents came from organizations with more than 1,000 employees, with more than a dozen industries represented. The survey took place in the first quarter of 2015. 

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1 Unisphere Research Reports, "The Real World of the DBA," March 2015 

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