The relational database has long been regarded as the backbone of today’s government IT infrastructure. However, the 21st century information landscape is rapidly changing and the traditional approach of solving data challenges is no longer feasible. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the volume of digital content will increase by nearly fifty percent from 2011, and continue to soar well into 2015. This increase is comprised mainly of unstructured data or Big Data sources, which include videos, images, music files, social media data, and more.

Government IT staff continues to try to solve modern data challenges by applying relational database technology that is no longer equipped to deal with the type of unstructured information governments must now leverage. Relational databases also incur huge expenses to develop and maintain in an era of “do more with less” IT budgets.

Today, modern tools have evolved to help federal agencies tackle Big Data, yet the majority of federal organizations continue to use relational databases to solve these challenges. This de facto implementation of legacy relational databases across government organizations, or “Relationertia,” has the effect of imposing a measureable tax on national productivity.

There are now newer, more modern approaches that enable government organizations to break free of this Relationertia tax and put budgets back on track, while at the same time unlocking new innovations. For example, MarkLogic was given six weeks to integrate 30 years of land data for Fairfax County, Virginia into a repository of land use data that would make it easier for county employees, developers and citizens to access real-time information. By moving to a single repository, employee productivity was enhanced, as well as citizen’s ability to access and search for critical and time-sensitive information.

As an alternative to the costly proposition of relational databases, unstructured databases can cut implementation times from years to months, IT staff from dozens to as little as one person, hardware requirements by up to ninety-five percent, maintenance costs by seventy percent, and total budget from an astounding nine or ten figures to just fractions of those numbers.

To read more about whether its time to pull the plug on relational databases in a recent Government Technology article, click here.

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