A new approach to tooling for data driven software development

Businesses today are gathering and storing data at an ever-accelerating pace, feeding the unquenchable imperative to leverage information for growth and transformation.


Businesses today are gathering and storing data at an ever-accelerating pace, feeding the unquenchable imperative to leverage information for growth and transformation.

Enterprise data and the demand for data-driven applications have grown faster than the IT organisations that support them. The skills and disciplines required to transmute data into business opportunity are varied and complex and have likewise failed to keep pace with the growth.

Furthermore, tightened budgetary controls have opened businesses and IT organisations’ eyes to the increased costs and waste resulting from poor data management.

A study carried out by Experian QAS, “The hidden costs of poor data management” found that companies across the globe were losing on average 6% of their revenue due to poorly managed data. Not only does this hinder financial flexibility, but also the ability to operate effectively and productively.

As IT organisations and businesses try to cope with budgets, efficiency, and productivity, they must do it while suffering under the weight of badly structured data architectures and databases.

Poorly written and inefficient application code underpinning data-driven applications further compounds the problem, while inadequately coded and structured data has a direct effect on environments where the experience of the interaction is a lucrative commodity.

Thus, applications that breakdown or run slowly because of insufficiently coded and inefficient queries place an unacceptable level of burden on end-users as they struggle to execute their tasks.

Badly structured data models raise costs as additional work is required to cleanse the data, improve access to it and allow others to better interpret it for subsequent reuse.

The complexity that can arise to provide additional layers to improve both the quality of and access to the stored data, limits the value of any productivity features provided and places additional stress on the processing facilities.

Changing role of developers and database administrators (DBA)

Over the last couple of decades, the sophistication of database technology, the underlying systems along with data volumes, has grown dramatically. This, coupled with the growth in the number of databases that each DBA must manage, and the greatly increased size of each database, has changed the way that DBAs and developers work.

Developers have taken on a more important role with data management and DBAs have become more system and architecture oriented. There is a risk that these two important groups might start to lose touch with one another. It is crucial that lines of communication between DBAs and developers, and data modellers and architects be clear and strong.

Tools as facilitators of communication

As productivity aids, tools are facilitators of communication. This view is consistent with the contemporary usage patterns.

For instance, data modeling tools are not only used to design databases, but also to document, visualise, classify, tag, centralise, and report on data assets.

Today’s data modeling tools can answer questions about what is stored where inside an enterprise, or what subject areas, tables or even columns contain sensitive or classified information. They are also beginning to blur the lines with what has traditionally been the development and data modelling worlds.

Another example is database change management tooling. Such tools can capture information about the specific state of a database at various points in time, and report on how the database has evolved: structures, permissions, settings, stored procedures, and the like.

The modern data and database tool set has something to offer both developers and DBAs. Standardising on common sets of tools provides a universal language to design, build and run information systems smoothly and consistently.

Making the right choice

The challenge of making the right tool selection is defined by two driving forces: ease of access to the right tools and the richness in the functional capability of the tools to productively and efficiently support the right roles.

This translates into a tooling and licensing model that allows access to the right tools at the right time without a great deal of administrative overhead.

Today, there tool sets that support this new tooling charter for data-driven application development and help facilitate greater team collaboration, communication and productivity. These tools represent a new approach to buying, deploying, and using tools.

They greatly simplify buying decisions by providing tools via a “tool chest” model. For instance, because databases rapidly evolve, instead of buying standalone tools a-la-carte, customers can buy a yearly membership subscription to a tool set, gaining access to perpetual licenses within a vendor’s solution stack.

This type of unique on-demand deployment model can not only ensure access to latest technology, but also greatly speed the acquisition and deployment of tools to aid superior application development.

Jason Vokes, Senior Director, Technologies & Marketing International, Embarcadero Technologies

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