NoSQL Databases: Worth a Look for MSPs That Manage Data?

NoSQL databases, largely open source software that parts ways with relational products, are getting more attention lately. But is it time for MSPs to look into this technology? The NoSQL technology is viewed by its users as simpler than relational and geared toward “Big Data” problems -- large and unwieldy data sets, which MSPs can surely manage for end-customers.

Unstructured data is a significant force behind the growth of Big Data. Examples of NoSQL databases include the Apache Cassandra Project, MongoDB, and Riak. Cassandra users include Facebook, Twitter, and Rackspace. MongoDB counts Disney, Craigslist and MTV Networks among its users. Riak users include Ask Sponsored Listings, Comcast and Mozilla Foundation.

MSPs may not yet be swamped with customers seeking NoSQL advice or hosting services. But the expansion of companies providing commercial support for NoSQL could further spread the penetration of those databases.

10Gen, which develops MongoDB and provides support, training and consulting around it, earlier this month announced $20 million in financing from its venture partners. In addition, Basho Technologies, which produces Riak in both open source and commercial versions, earlier this year closed Series D equity financing of $7.5 million. The company also hired Donald J. Rippert, formerly chief technology officer at Accenture, as its president and chief executive officer.

The latter action is an endorsement of a sort. Integrators such as Accenture typically don’t advance bleeding edge solutions among their customers -- they stay ahead of the customer technology-wise but not too far. That the former Accenture CTO is signing on to NoSQL suggests the technology is on a mainstream trajectory.

Rippert, in an interview with market researcher GigaOm, said he believes NoSQL provides the answer to about 40 percent of today’s business use cases.

Of course, that’s not to say that a 40 percent market slice is the current reality.

One MSP source said his company has seen a customer or two implementing and self-managing NoSQL databases, but no activity of note beyond that.

On the other hand, Phillip Koblence, vice president of operations at The New York Internet Company Inc., a managed services, colo and cloud computing services provider, said he has seen interest in NoSQL among media companies.

“The strongest demand that we’ve seen for NoSQL has been from traditional media customers,” he said. “Overall, the flexibility has been a great hit as well as the simplicity and specificity that NoSQL delivers. Instead of working from a large, all-purpose database, NoSQL has enabled us to deploy a customized, hyper-specific database in a fraction of the time.”

So it may make sense to at least become more familiar with NoSQL databases, particularly for MSPs with customers hoarding loads of unstructured content.

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