Data may be the new oil, but many IT professionals are relying on legacy database technology to manage the highly valuable commodity.

A survey by database software provider Couchbase found that 51% of business and IT professionals rely solely on outdated database tech.

Companies frequently put off updating legacy technology because it can be costly in the short term, despite often saving money and increasing productivity in the long run.

That sentiment was echoed by nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents, who said that legacy relational database tech is preventing them from reacting to their varying business needs.

“While traditional databases are still being relied upon by many organisations, the emphasis that business and IT professionals now place on scalability and flexibility is increasingly at odds with this,” commented Huw Owen, head of EMEA & APJ at Couchbase.

“Without the ability to react in real-time to constantly changing data, scale up at times of peak demand, or enable the wider digital goals of the business, organisations can’t be sure their database will help them reap the benefits of digital transformation. After all, data is at the heart of many of the sophisticated digital experiences that rival companies might well be delivering.”

Database legacy tech comes with scalability problems

The survey asked 130 IT professionals in companies both large and small across sectors including financial services, the public sector and healthcare about their company’s approach to data management.

For 20% of the respondents, the lack of scalability that comes with legacy database tech is the biggest issue they face.

However, a quarter said that improving scalability is their top database priority in the next 24 months.

“The pressure to digitally transform has accelerated substantially over the past 12 months. IT professionals are feeling the burden, but this survey suggests many are still unable to move past the limitations of their legacy databases,” said Owen.

“The pioneering 8% that are modernising their approach to databases are likely to gain an early edge on the competition, but there’s still time for the laggards to catch up.”

One way to modernise is to adopt non SQL, or NoSQL database mechanisms, which support a range of query languages and have become increasingly popular for managing big data and for real-time web applications.

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“It’s broadly accepted that NoSQL has a place in the database stack, the question is which organisations will make the best use of it and how long it will take them to do so,” said Owen.


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