Today’s Databases Aren’t Cutting It – Here’s Why

January 23, 2024 •

As organizations continue to generate and utilize massive amounts of data, we must leverage modern database solutions that will meet the demands of the data-driven era. The answer does not lie in additional infrastructure – innovation will be key.


The promise of big data has had its challenges. Companies are discovering that tried and true repositories, like data lakes and warehouses, have just become dumping grounds for information, and ascertaining any substantial value is often difficult. We’ve learned the hard way that data alone isn’t powerful, so the next wave of Web3 will require supercharged databases that allow for retrieval in a cost-effective manner without risk of modification.


Databases: past and present


It’s safe to say that we’ve strayed far from the first days of flat-file databases, when a simple search could get you to what you were looking for. SQL and relational databases were then designed to address data consistency issues and expedite retrieval, but performance limitations, followed by the need for expensive vertical scaling, arose as these systems developed. As the great migration to the cloud began, NoSQL (document databases) was born, allowing companies to actually store documents and scale horizontally. But these databases were not without their limitations either – data consistency issues persisted, and query languages weren’t quite as powerful as SQL databases.


If this brief history lesson has taught us anything, it’s that data management is not one-size-fits-all. In most cases, larger organizations rely on applications built on top of databases, often employing several different repositories to appease the company’s needs. Typically, these companies have a hodgepodge of different databases depending on what they’re trying to accomplish, whether it be different technology, brands, languages, etc. The fact of the matter is that the digital universe is doubling in size every two years, and the sheer volume of data that companies must manage is only increasing.


State-of-the-art databases are still missing the mark


There are a few areas in which the industry, as a whole, continues to fall short:

  1. Security: Data breaches and privacy violations have become all too common, emphasizing the limitations of existing database security measures. Many databases are built to store and retrieve data quickly, but security is often an afterthought or left in the hands of the infrastructure provider – which time and time again has proven to fail. Despite continuous advancements, vulnerabilities and exploits persist. Compliance with regulations, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR,) adds an additional layer of complexity. Strengthening security and privacy measures, while ensuring seamless access and usability, remains a persistent challenge.
  2. Performance Limitations: With digital transformation moving from on-premise data centers to cloud or hybrid scenarios, companies that house massive datasets in current state-of-the-art systems, SQL/NoSQL databases for instance, will experience major performance limitations at scale. These traditional databases struggle to handle mass datasets while maintaining optimal performance, often experiencing issues, like latency or throttling that lead to slow query response times and system bottlenecks.
  3. Cost: Can implementing and managing databases be a costly endeavor? Absolutely, but traditional databases require expensive hardware and infrastructure to achieve optimal performance and reduced data redundancy. Most cloud providers will tell you that the answer to your performance issues is buying more infrastructure but more often than not, organizations don’t have the budget for this, and they end up spending more money than they originally planned for. For organizations with limited resources, these expenses can pose significant barriers to leveraging data effectively – making them consider even moving back to their own data centers.

The promise of blockchain-powered databases

Emerging technologies in database management are ushering in a new era of data security and transparency. Blockchain technology, for instance, has recently emerged as a potential game-changer for the way companies store and manage their datasets. Originally devised for secure and transparent financial transactions, blockchain’s decentralized and immutable ledger offers a revolutionary approach to data security and integrity in the face of increasingly prevalent threats and privacy concerns. The technology ensures that the transfer of data is not only recorded securely, but tamper-proof—the cryptographic principles underlying blockchain make it incredibly difficult for unauthorized entities to alter or compromise stored information, which in turn provides a robust defense against impending attacks.

One of the many key promises of blockchain-powered databases is enhanced security. Unlike traditional databases, where security measures are often retrofitted or left to infrastructure providers, blockchain embeds security at its core. This not only safeguards the data against unauthorized users, but it ensures a transparent and auditable trail of every interaction with that database. Moreover, blockchain eliminates the need for a central authority or intermediary. Its decentralized nature enhances trust and reduces the risk of a single point of failure. This capability is specifically applicable across industries where trust and data integrity are paramount, like finance or healthcare.

As organizations grapple with constant compliance challenges, blockchain’s inherent features can also enable companies to seamlessly meet regulatory requirements. The immutability of data entries aligns with the principles of data protection regulations, like the CCPA and GDPR. In other words, blockchain-powered databases have the power to help organizations easily and confidently navigate the complexities often associated with data compliance.


We need innovation

When all is said and done, the answer does not lie in additional infrastructure – innovation is the key. We have to step out of our current thinking and evolve from the means by which data has historically been stored, managed and protected. While state-of-the-art databases have played a crucial role in managing and organizing vast amounts of information, their limitations have become increasingly evident in the face of ever-expanding data volumes. The challenges of security, performance and cost necessitate innovative solutions.

As organizations continue to generate and utilize massive amounts of data, it is crucial that we find and leverage modern database solutions, like blockchain technology, that meet the demands of the data-driven era. By addressing these limitations, businesses can unlock the full potential of their data, enabling smarter decision-making, improved customer experiences and competitive advantages in an increasingly data-centric world.