Data Sprawl

When I was starting in the computer industry, it seemed that we had many choices for platforms, but once we had decided on a direction, the companies I worked for standardized on those systems. It seemed that there was less interoperability between vendors, or even subsets of products from those vendors.

That’s changed and these days I see products from different hardware vendors, different OSes, different development languages, even different database platforms being co-mingled and mixed throughout all sizes of companies. I see developers moving from Windows to OSX to Unix without a blink and data professionals going from SQL Server to MySQL to Hadoop easily.

Well, maybe not easily. Certainly there are challenges in learning how MySQL operates differently from SQL Server, which is a long way from the import and processing of data in NoSQL systems. However I do see some SQL Server professionals rising to the challenge and learning to work with these disparate technologies.

It seems to me that many of us in the future will need to develop multiple skill sets with different technologies just to be effective. Many of our companies will continue to deal with more data sprawl as not only will data be stored in RDBMSs and Excel, but we’ll get cloud services, NoSQL systems, and more that contain sets of data our organizations want to combine together.

We have seen XML and Hadoop integration in the SQL Server platform, with both R and JSON coming in SQL Server 2016. While I don’t know that any of these will come to dominate data analysis, I do think that it will behoove data professionals to be sure they keep their ability to learn sharp by experimenting with new technologies and growing their skills. Your company might not use Hadoop (or any new tech), but if you don’t learn about it, you won’t know if it meets a need you have.

However, even if you don’t decide to use the technology, the effort spent learning about it will not be wasted. Your brain will be more flexible, and you’ll have less anxiety if you’re asked to take a look at a new technology, maybe graph databases, something that is probably wildly different from anything you’ve ever used.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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