Unstructured Data - The future of Data Administration

by DNB 20. June 2011 08:00

Some have claimed that there is a problem with the way data is currently managed using the relational paradigm do to the rise of unstructured data in modern business. PCMag.com defines unstructured data as data that does not reside in a fixed location. They further explain that unstructured data refers to data in a free text form that is not bound to any specific structure.

With the rise of unstructured data in the form of emails, spread sheets, images and documents the critics have a right to argue that the relational paradigm is not as effective as the object oriented data paradigm in managing this type of data. The relational paradigm relies heavily on structure and relationships in and between items of data. This type of paradigm works best in a relation database management system like Microsoft SQL, MySQL, and Oracle because data is forced to conform to a structure in the form of tables and relations can be derived from the existence of one or more tables.

These critics also claim that database administrators have not kept up with reality because their primary focus in regards to data administration deals with structured data and the relational paradigm. The relational paradigm was developed in the 1970’s as a way to improve data management when compared to standard flat files. Little has changed since then, and modern database administrators need to know more than just how to handle structured data. That is why critics claim that today’s data professionals do not have the proper skills in order to store and maintain data for modern systems when compared to the skills of system designers, programmers , software engineers, and data designers  due to the industry trend of object oriented design and development.

I think that they are wrong. I do not disagree that the industry is moving toward an object oriented approach to development with the potential to use more of an object oriented approach to data.   However, I think that it is business itself that is limiting database administrators from changing how data is stored because of the potential costs, and impact that might occur by altering any part of stored data. Furthermore, database administrators like all technology workers constantly are trying to improve their technical skills in order to excel in their job, so I think that accusing data professional is not just when the root cause of the lack of innovation is controlled by business, and it is business that will suffer for their inability to keep up with technology.

One way for database professionals to better prepare for the future of database management is start working with data in the form of objects and so that they can extract data from the objects so that the stored information within objects can be used in relation to the data stored in a using the relational paradigm. Furthermore, I think the use of pattern matching will increase with the increased use of unstructured data because object can be selected, filtered and altered based on the existence of a pattern found within an object.

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