Many (probably most!) state governments in the U.S. struggle with the fact that the data their employees need to successfully and smoothly run their important programs is often lost in disconnected silos. They cannot get a complete view of the data, which means that essential services that leverage this information are delayed or ineffective. This is, ultimately, no good for public consumers who rely on these services (read: U.S. citizens).

The struggle with relational databases and legacy technology is real. In this first of two blogs, learn about how this type of database slows down data integration efforts, which impacts service delivery, and about the signs that the legacy technology your agency relies on is a problem.

The Trouble with Relational Databases

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) have dominated the industry for decades. They’ve been effective for accomplishing the tasks they were designed to achieve, however, this model has had a hard time keeping up with the quantity, scale and quickly changing nature of data that your agency wants to store, manage and integrate.

A traditional RDBMS features a static data structure—not exactly ideal for the flexibility and agility needed for fast data integration. A database schema needs to be established before coding even begins. And, changing the database structure subsequently is time-consuming and expensive.

This model also is designed to scale vertically. So when it starts to have execution challenges, it’s usually moved to bigger (and more expensive) hardware. But the lightning-speed changes in today’s data cause rapid growth of the database. And, in the case of RDBMS, the growth often exceeds the speed at which a painfully slow migration process can occur.

The bottom line is, data is created faster and it changes faster than ever before. And, the questions asked of the data also change faster to meet new business requirements. Decisions are now made in minutes, not days, and data to support those decisions must be delivered in the right format and with greater efficiency—relational databases can’t keep up.

Signs that Your Legacy Technology Is a Problem

So, running an old or obsolete system can do real damage to organizations, companies and yes, governments. The technology makes security more vulnerable for breaches, fails to meet clients’ needs, is expensive to manage and more.

Below are signs that your legacy technology is affecting your mission:

  1. It’s difficult to achieve a complete view of data. Purpose-specific data silos make it difficult to get a 360-degree view of all the data needed to make better decisions. And, the technology isn’t flexible enough to allow a quick response to changing data governance requirements, budget constraints and radical shifts in legislation.
  2. Program effectiveness is difficult to measure. With essential data scattered across silos, measuring program effectiveness is difficult at best. The inability to quickly incorporate new data makes it impossible to get the right information to the right people on time and within budget.
  3. IT focuses on sustainment, not innovation. Developers, architects and program managers are so busy managing data infrastructure that they aren’t able to focus efforts on advancing agency goals to deliver mission-critical information applications in a timely manner.

What You Can Do About It

In our next blog, we’ll explain how multi-model NoSQL databases can solve your relational database woes and help bring your data to a place that’s most effective for your employees and services.

Learn More

Download our ebook, Introducing the Operational Data Hub, and find out how MarkLogic’s ODH pattern can address data integration headaches. It provides functional specifications of what ODH does and explores use cases of how it is being put into practice today.

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