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Open-Source Databases: The Next Step in Modernization

Linton Ward
Linton Ward, Distinguished Engineer, OpenPower solutions-Photo by Jason Griego

In the world of business technology, “modernization” emerged as a buzzword in the 1990s. Back then, the foundation of many IT environments were critical applications that were typically written in decades-old code, and the challenge was getting the existing technology and underlying data enabled for internet access.

Modernization has evolved from a buzzword to an imperative for any business that wishes to stay competitive. New computer hardware and enhanced internet interconnectivity don’t simply offer greater power and faster speeds, they allow for new possibilities. It’s in this environment—which includes the Internet of Things (IoT)—where open-source databases (OSDBs) are increasingly relied upon (bit.ly/29C9HxU).

Many IBM Power Systems* enterprises are currently implementing—or at least examining—OSDBs. Think of it as the next step in modernization.

“I call it the modern data platform,” says IBM’s Linton Ward, Distinguished Engineer, OpenPower solutions. “This trend toward digitalization is causing new sources of data, new representations and new types of data in the database—for example, unstructured text in addition to traditional structured data.”

Data Breaks Out

A confluence of factors has propelled the emergence of OSDBs, but two stand out. The first is the gradual but steady adoption of open-source software among corporate IT enterprises. At the beginning of this century, IBM was among the first to recognize the potential of Linux* and commit to aiding its development. Open source has since proved itself in enterprise environments, and today, nonusers are in the minority. Of course, the price was right, but that wouldn’t have mattered if the solutions themselves weren’t tightly coded or rich in function. Sixty-five percent of companies now utilize open-source solutions, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Black Duck Software, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based provider of management and security solutions for open-source software (bit.ly/1SCW1lQ ).

The other factor that has specifically spurred OSDB usage is data. Have you seen what’s happened to data? Short answer: Data is no longer confined to rows and columns.

Now for a longer answer: Consider a business. Twenty years ago, that operation may have collected everything it needed by tracking revenues, inventories and customer data—but other important corporate data was being left by the wayside. Think of a hospital with electronic medical records, a construction firm with engineering notes or a sales force with reports from the field. But at that point, it was only possible to collect data that fit neatly into those rows and columns.

Neil Tardy is a contributing writer to IBM Systems Magazine. Neil can be reached at ntardy@msptechmedia.com.

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