Databases: Old Wine, New Bottles, and Now Updated Labels with More Jargon and Buzzwords

June 29, 2021

I read “It’s the Golden Age of Databases. It Can’t Last.” The subtitle is fetching too:

Startups are reaping huge funding rounds. But money alone won’t be enough to top the current market leaders.

I think that it is important to keep in mind that databases once resided within an organization. In 1980, I had my employer’s customer database in a small closet in my office. I kept my office locked, and anyone who needed access had to find me, set up an appointing, and do a look up. Was I paranoid? Yep, and I suppose that’s why I never went to work for flexi-think outfits intellectually allied with Microsoft or SolarWinds, among others.

Today the cloud is the rage. Why? It’s better, faster, and cheaper. Just pick any two and note that I did not include “more secure.” If you want some color about the “cost” of the cloud pursuit fueled by cost cutting, check out this high flying financial outfit’s essay “Andreesen Horowitz Partner Martin Casado Says the Cost of Cloud Computing Is a $100 Billion Drag on the Biggest Software Companies, Sparking a Huge Debate across the Industry.” Some of the ideas are okay; others strike me as similar to those suggesting the Egyptian pyramids are big batteries. The point is that many companies embraced the cloud in search of reducing the cost and hassle of on premises systems and people.

One of the upsides of the cloud is the crazy marketing assertions that a bunch of disparate data can be dumped into a “cloud system” and become instantly available for Fancy Dan analytics. Yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. I accept PayPal too.

The “Golden Age” write up works over time to make the new databases exciting for investors who want a big payout. I did note this statement in the write up which is chock-a-block with vendor names:

Ultimately, Databricks and Snowflake’s main competitors probably aren’t each other, but rather Microsoft, AWS and Google.

Do you think it would be helpful to mention IBM and Oracle? I do.

Here’s another important statement from the write up:

One thing is certain: The big data revolution isn’t slowing down. And that means the war over managing it and putting the information to use will only get more fierce.

Why the “fierce”? Perhaps it will be the investors in the whizzy new “we can federate and be better, faster, and cheaper” outfits who put the pedal to the metal. The reality is that big outfits license big brands. Change is time consuming and expensive. And the seamless data lakes with data lake houses on them? Probably still for sale after owners realize that data magic is expensive, time consuming, and fiddly.

But rah rah is solid info today.

Stephen E Arnold, June 29, 2021

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