How DataStax wants its NoSQL platform to drive the 'right now economy'

DataStax is shifting its strategy to better serve enterprise customers operating in what its CEO calls the "right now economy", where companies have to use their data to offer customers an always-on, personalised experience if they are to fend off digital disruption.

Speaking at the DataStax Day in London this week, CEO Billy Bosworth told Computerworld UK: "You don't have to spend very long telling somebody about a 'right now economy', and the 'right now enterprise', without getting violent head-nod agreements."

The DataStax Enterprise (DSE) platform started life as a commercialised, enterprise-ready version of Apache Cassandra, an open source distributed NoSQL database technology. It grew from there to include advanced security controls, graph database models - which helps with personalisation and fraud detection - operational analytics and advanced search capabilities.

While DataStax engineers will remain committed contributors to the open source community, Bosworth said: "In terms of our innovative enhancements to DSE, that's our top priority right now, to put everything we need into that unified platform."

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In Bosworth's words, this data platform works best for any enterprise to run geo-distributed, real-time applications, as it can crunch through data much faster than a traditional relational database, allowing companies to be more responsive to their customers.

Take one of DataStax's early customers Netflix, which uses the platform to contextualise customer data and deliver personalised recommendations within fractions of a second.

Now DataStax wants to help older enterprise customers to be more like Netflix and engage with customers in a more relevant and responsive way. "We believe this to be the backbone upon which the next 10 years of our economy is built, and we are very excited to be a part of that," Bosworth said.

Enterprise customers

Bosworth said that the company is targeting "classic enterprises who are reinventing themselves".

"I would say if you look at the timeline for where these companies need to go, versus where they are, we are in the very early goings," he added. "They need to really transform every aspect of their businesses."

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When it comes to how the company communicates this to enterprise customers, the traditionally developer-centric business is beefing up its customer success team to offer more consulting and best practice for clients, and is focusing on its partner ecosystem.

"We don't stop any of the great work we do on the technical engagement side, and still have very vibrant developer communities and free, high-quality training," Boswell said. "We're not going to stop that. What we have now done is add that ability to connect that conversation inside of a customer, to the business people.

"It is much more of an additive motion, adding to our skill set and vocabulary in ways that, as a very technical company, we didn't have in our repertoire prior."

Maturation of the NoSQL market

This is the natural step for DataStax, as it looks to mature its business beyond simply helping technical customers get to grips with a new database technology, and to really hone in on the value they can bring to the business.

For DataStax this means becoming the database for businesses looking to do real-time personalisation, or get a 360-degree view of their customers, which is a much more palatable offering for more traditional enterprises than its pure-play technology would have been previously.

In another step to aid enterprise adoption, DataStax announced a managed cloud option for DSE last November, for customers that don't want to manage and maintain their DSE instance.

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Bosworth wouldn't be drawn into talking about an initial public offering, but the maturation curve the company is on, and the recent noise in the market being created by fellow commercial NoSQL database vendor MongoDB's upcoming IPO, will only fuel the rumour mill.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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