Relational Databases Still Reign in Enterprises, Survey Says

A new survey of database deployments shows traditional, structured relational databases still reign among enterprises, irregardless of the publicity surrounding Hadoop-based Big Data approaches that feature NoSQL databases as a primary component.

The new survey commissioned by Dell Software also reveals the use of traditional structured data is growing even faster than unstructured data. This indicates the research results aren't merely reflecting an entrenched user base being slowly eroded by newer upstart technologies.

"Although the growth of unstructured data has garnered most of the attention, Dell's survey shows structured data growing at an even faster rate," the company said in a statement. "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."

Dell commissioned Unisphere Research to poll some 300 database administrators and other corporate data staffers in a report titled "The Real World of the Database Administrator."

What Database Brands Do You Have Running in Your Organization?
[Click on image for larger view.] What Database Brands Do You Have Running in Your Organization? (source: Dell Software)

"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," the company said.

In fact, Dell said, more than two-thirds of enterprises reported that structured data constitutes 75 percent of the data being managed, while almost one-third of organizations reported not managing unstructured data at all -- yet.

There are many indications that organizations will widely adopt the new technologies, Dell said, as they need to support new analytical use cases.

But for the present, some 78 percent of respondents reported they were running mission-critical data on the Oracle RDBMS, closely followed by Microsoft SQL Server at about 72 percent. After MySQL and IBM DB2, the first NoSQL database to crack the most-used list is MongoDB.

Looking to the future, Dell highlighted two specific indicators of the growing dependence on NoSQL databases, especially in large organizations:

  • 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.

But despite the big hype and big plans on the part of big companies, the survey indicated that Big Data isn't making quite as big an impact on enterprises as might be expected.

Instead, even newer upstart technologies are seen as being more disruptive.

"Most enterprises believe that more familiar 'new' technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing will have more impact on their organization over the next several years than 'newer' emerging technologies such as Hadoop," the survey states. "In fact, Hadoop and NoSQL do not factor into many companies' plans over the next few years."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.