Unlocking data innovation in Asia Pacific with NoSQL

General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, DataStax

Over the next three years, Asia Pacific’s demand for data will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27.2% as the region leads the way in new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

As one of the most advanced public cloud markets in the Asia Pacific, Singapore’s public cloud investment is expected to grow at a 20% CAGR to US$3.5 billion by 2023, with digital native businesses being the most significant users of the public cloud in the market. Other active users of the public cloud in the country are financial services institutions, retailers, media companies and public sector organisations.

With the global datasphere skyrocketing 15-fold in the last decade, relational databases, though still useful, can no longer cope with today’s applications, user needs and scale out volume. NoSQL technologies are stepping in to fill the gap.  The NoSQL market is predicted to increase tenfold to an estimated US$22.08 billion valuation by 2026. 

For CIOs in Asia Pacific, these are exciting, but also challenging times. Implementing NoSQL is worth the effort to drive innovation and growth.

How do leaders get organisational buy-in, especially in conservative societies? Will it fit in with legacy systems? How do leaders plan for data migration? Do organisations have the right skills to implement NoSQL?

Is NoSQL right for your organisation?

For organisations with projects that require scale and large amounts of data, such as personalisation, user profile management, engaging web applications, mobile applications, Internet of Things, and so on, NoSQL is the answer. Specifically, Apache Cassandra as it is a distributed NoSQL database designed to handle large amounts of data with high availability, low latency, global scale and no single point of failure. This is key for organisations with global reach and the need for 24×7 uptime with high performance.

Enterprises in Asia are recognising this and rapidly adopting cloud-based open-source NoSQL DBMS, especially for their new applications. NoSQL’s infrastructure distributes data across multiple nodes in a single data cluster according to a custom replication factor, typically three. This optimises both reads and writes with zero-downtime and allows applications to scale out.

Today in the Asia Pacific region, as more modern, real-time applications are built to engage customers (mobile retail applications, personalized streaming with recommendations, in-the-moment fraud detection and crypto currency transactions), companies are looking to NoSQL databases for agile real-time insights and pay-as-you-grow pricing models that significantly push down TCO.

Organisations working with big data, or in fast-growing, non-traditional industries such as Gaming, e-Commerce, and FinTech, are opting for NoSQL as the answer to accelerate innovation and time to market. Other business goals include:

  • Rapidly building and deploying mobile-first real time applications that engage customers and drive new revenue growth opportunities
  • Lowering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with pay-as-you-grow pricing models
  • Real-time personalisation to improve customer experiences
  • Ease of integration with existing systems to make data available to the entire data ecosystem including data lakes and data warehouses 
  • Boosting performance, efficiency, and stability

A high-performing cloud Database-As-A-Service (DBaaS) is the perfect solution to scalability, performance, availability, developer productivity, operational simplicity and massive TCO reduction. However, do organisations have the skills and buy-in from decision makers to make the switch?

What to consider when picking a NoSQL database

No doubt, NoSQL databases are disruptive, especially within the relational database world. It is common to want to preserve the status quo, ​​the inherent desire to do things the way they’ve always been done.

But without change, there’s no innovation. Developing a solid use case with a clear understanding of what an organisation is trying to achieve, is the first step to a successful NoSQL project. Ask any start-up and they will tell you – these agile entities were ‘born in the cloud’ – their requirements of scale, performance agility and TCO are unlikely to be delivered by RDBMS technology. This category of users are not just innovative SMEs but include global Unicorns (companies with more than US$1 billion in valuation) which are growing at a blistering pace.   

Other than understanding the use case and the disruptive changes brought about by the new technology, identifying the key architects and technical leads who can help shape those processes and get their organisations on board, is essential. Developers are the keys to success with NoSQL as they are the life of new, high-growth applications. Giving them APIs to make the dev tools they love to connect with a NoSQL database is crucial.

5 reasons NoSQL is crucial for speed and innovation

With applications that demand massive volumes of data and speed-to-market, NoSQL databases like the open source Apache Cassandra database offer the scale, throughput, flexibility, efficiency, and availability to keep up with the speed and scale of innovation. Here are five compelling reasons to migrate to a NoSQL database like Cassandra.

Reason #1: Serverless Cassandra reduces costs by 75%

Today’s legacy datastores are not only expensive to manage, but also difficult to scale, maintain and update for operators. Legacy systems can add up to high ownership costs since infrastructure, support and upgrades for an older system cost much more than investing in new software. 

Moving to the cloud with a ‘managed service’ eliminates the costs of procuring, maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure. Instead, you pay for what you consume, ultimately reducing the total cost of ownership.

Figure 1. TCO for self-managed Cassandra vs. DataStax Astra serverless Cassandra.

By helping organisations deliver their apps to market faster at much lower cost, Cassandra has been proven to reduce the total cost of ownership by 75% over 3 years, according to a GigaOm report. Other benefits include 95% less staffing costs, 3 times less complexity, and 44% lower infrastructure costs. 

Reason #2: Performance, speed, and availability

Figure 2. Flexera report on top digital initiatives in 2020 vs 2021.

Today’s customers demand speed and seamlessness from an organisation’s web and mobile applications. In fact, the Flexera CIO Priorities Report in 2020 revealed that customers are the main drivers of digital transformation activities. This makes it crucial for enterprises to adopt data solutions that are suitable for modern applications and offer scalability, performance, speed, availability and real time insights.

NoSQL databases like Cassandra accelerate query response times and supercharge the performance of even the most intense operational cloud applications. Always available, Cassandra is ideal for global applications that have to run 24/7 for users across the world. Data is always accessible and never lost. What’s more, Cassandra’s built-in repair services fix problems immediately when they occur, without any manual intervention.

Reason #3: A more secure cloud NoSQL 

According to IBM, the average cost of a single data breach was US$4.24 million in 2021. Asia Pacific saw the second highest increase in cyber risk, just after North America.

Legacy systems are no longer as secure as cloud-native applications because it’s harder to get security support and updates from a legacy system provider. Most legacy systems are also not compatible with advanced security features like multi-factor authentication or encryption methods.

Moving to cloud NoSQL removes some of these security concerns, although not entirely. But most cloud database providers offer extensive services and technical support that can help you prevent and combat cyberattacks.

Reason #4: Mobile compatibility

Smartphones are an integral part of our lives and play a critical role in the digital transformation process. In 2021, 96.51% of the population in Korea assessed the internet through their mobile phones. In the wider Asia Pacific, more than 80% of internet connections will be through smartphones by 2025.

With high mobile usage across the region, developing mobile applications is key to staying competitive in the market. For retail companies especially, mobile apps are crucial to driving sales as 63% of consumers in Asia Pacific shop via a mobile app.

Fast access to massive volumes of data is key to delivering seamless mobile apps since outdated software cannot keep up with this demand. Cloud-based Cassandra eliminates the need to constantly request data from the server; instead, data is embedded in the database and automatically synchronised with the cloud or remote servers. 

Reason #5: Delivering exceptional customer experiences

Fueled by the pandemic and restrictions, Asia has become home to half of the world’s internet users in 2020 with a total of 2.3 billion. This new era of digital-first consumers is forcing companies to adopt digital transformation strategies to provide more value and connectivity to their customers. 86% of businesses believe that cloud technology is key. 

Cloud technology empowers companies to be fast, dynamic, and agile. With cloud-based Cassandra, an organisation can easily connect its web and mobile applications to its database and gain valuable customer insights to deliver exceptional customer experiences. 

NoSQL is purpose built for modern day applications, since traditional RDBMS, with its apparent limitations, can no longer help an organisation thrive. Implementing NoSQL systems into an organisation is a paradigm shift, but worth the effort to drive innovation and growth.