SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Pyramid of Data


Data is an important part of our world, and arguably the most important asset in computing. All the rest of the devices, platforms, and technologies we use are designed to work with data, by manipulating, storing, accessing, and presenting data in new ways. We need devices and operating systems to host software, and applications to work with data, but the data is the key to fuel for every engine.

I see there being a pyramid of data, with various technologies that are used to store and work with data. This is roughly how I see things, with various sources that store data as the foundation, and then systems to summarize and aggregate data, a new layer of analytics with Data Science, and the ever present ways of interacting with the data in order to use it for insights and decisions.

(SSRS) (Visualizations) (Excel) (Power BI)

(Data Science) (Artificial Intelligence) (Machine Learning)

(Data Warehouses) (Data Marts) (ETL) (Data Streams) (Linked Data Sources)

(SQL Server) (Oracle) (CosmosDB) (ElasticSearch) (Redis) (HDFS) (MongoDB) (PostgreSQL)

That's been my traditional view of the data pyramid, but cloud computing, the orchestration of containers, and better ways of analyzing data without moving it lead me to think that this is becoming more of a mesh inside the pyramid that multiplexes connections between layers. While I do think AI and ML systems will become more and more useful to a wider variety of applications and organizations, I do think the adoption will move more slowly than the hype suggests. Likewise, I think containers will grow slowly as there is a need to rearchitect many applications.

Certainly cloud computing is becoming more and more commonplace. I especially am starting to see more smaller organizations taking advantage of cloud platforms that build SaaS, not for large scales, but for very small scale organizations. The platforms themselves are constantly lowering the cost of engaging with the cloud at small scales, and making it more feasible for application developers to deliver tremendous value and capabilities to very small organizations that aren't, and don't want to be, software companies. They just need services and capabilities without a lot of effort. The Power platform from Microsoft is likely to accelerate this with easy development for any semi-skilled software developer.