By David Maitland, General Manager, EMEA at Couchbase
If the last 12 months have taught us anything it’s that, in business terms, we are living in the age of the tech start-up. Already this year, we’ve seen smaller, innovation intensive companies[/nurl making their mark and being acquired by the likes of [nurl=http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/24/facebook-buys-moves-fitness-tracking-health-data]Facebook, not to mention more recent deals taking place between Apple and Beats Music. Of course, for new start-ups it’s not all plain sailing, and for every new company that hits the headlines, you can guarantee that there are hundreds who will struggle to survive. Even then, those who actually manage to make it into their second year find themselves faced with a series of new obstacles to clear. Perhaps the largest of these is how to manage the increase in user adoption that comes with success. So how do businesses remain smart and future-proof themselves to deal with the challenges that success brings in terms of scalability? Is it possible to ensure that your infrastructure matches your ambition?
For start-ups it is most important to remain agile and be able to adapt to changing circumstances in the market quickly. Products and services need to be generating profits for the company and, in the best of cases, creating a hugely positive response. Existing databases and servers might have been able to process a handful of users and a comparatively small amount of data that came through in the beginning of the business – but will they be able to deal with a high influx of data and users once they make it big?
As we have seen in the past, up-and-coming companies that hit the mark in the industry can practically explode overnight and have thousands of new customers. Whereas not too long ago, a thousand users of an application were considered a lot, today millions of users in less than a day are normal. However, as great as huge initial interest might be it does not yet make a successful business. The next and most important step is to successfully handle the influx of requests and provide customers with a satisfying performance experience. To do this, they need databases that enhance the ability of young companies to live up to the challenge and implement rapid and agile solutions that can support their business operations.
Large numbers of users combined with a dynamic environment and ever-changing usage patterns further drives the need for easily scalable database technologies. While relational solutions won’t be dynamic enough to quickly scale to a sudden inflow of data, non-relational databases have the elasticity to scale both upwards and downwards to the desired level while maintaining the performance users demand. Apart from that, in a world of applications and social media, third parties such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp capture large amounts of data that add to daily inflow of data. Much of this new data however is unstructured or semi-structured and therefore is often not compatible with relational databases. Start-ups need a database that is able to effectively store and process any kind of data in a short amount of time to avoid a decrease in performance.
Apart from flexibility and scalability, NoSQL has another key advantage for start-ups who are planning on making it big: it is easy to implement and does not require extensive technological knowledge to use it. This means companies can not only save the money they would have otherwise spent on upgrading their caches, servers and databases, there is also no need for expensive IT support. In short, NoSQL allows start-ups to increase and maximise their profits with minimal investment, be ready to quickly adapt to changes in the market and expand in size whenever necessary without much time or cost to be spent.
Young companies that are growing quickly or, in fact, any company that has to deal with large amounts of data or users, need to have technical solutions that are flexible and scalable enough to meet their future needs. If the saying “Change is the only constant” still rings true then businesses of any size are well prepared with a database that changes with them.