This has gone too far. NoSQL, as a term, has morphed from a vague term about new-world, highly scalable, schemaless data stores into an even vaguer term that now means “any data store that is non-relational.” That’s just too much. While innovation in the world of databases wasn’t exactly common over the past decade, the now breakneck pace of database projects around the globe has left many wondering what to call all of these new systems. Thus, NoSQL, as a term, has been muddied by all the additional innovation in the world of storing data.

Take Neo Technologies, for example. This graph database has been lumped in with the NoSQL crowd, as have other graph, time series and object storage systems. But there’s already a term for those types of databases: graphs, time series and object stores!

To better serve our readers, SD Times is defining the term “NoSQL” to refer to only to highly scalable data stores designed for fast distribution of large datasets across clusters of commodity hardware. We’ll stop short of saying they must include key-value stores, and we will leave some of the ambiguity between the document storage databases.

It is certainly time for some NoSQL belt tightening. If you are a database software maker, and your database doesn’t fall under this definition, don’t panic. Instead, find a better term for your marketing department to use. Considering the competitive state of the NoSQL market, better to avoid the term entirely.
Another case of FUD to Dud
We all remember Y2K, when computers of the world would melt down because they were not programmed to handle the century change in their internal calendars. Remember the fear mongering that was being spread and the panic that ensued? And what actually happened? Nothing. Business went on as usual. A couple vendors made a few dollars off software written to bypass the problem, and a couple analysts made a few dollars off their dire predictions and remedies, but not much more than that occurred.

A few years after that, we started hearing from “legacy modernization” software providers—and some analysts too—that COBOL programmers were an aging breed, and if companies didn’t act to move their precious corporate jewels off mainframes and onto more modern systems, there’d be no one left to maintain those archaic apps and slowly but surely their businesses would suffer mightily. Now, as Jennifer deJong Lent reports in this issue, it again appears as if all that ruckus was much ado about nothing. Yes, COBOL programmers are moving into retirement, but Jenn found that companies are not concerned. Some have already taken steps to integrate their COBOL apps into more modern systems, and others are using newer technologies to handle more current entries, preventing the COBOL apps from growing any larger.

Yet, despite what some forecast, COBOL is not going away. Apps written years ago in COBOL tend to be very stable and don’t require much maintenance. Running apps on mainframes is also a very efficient way to operate, in that they already provide the type of scale and performance organizations seek to get out of their distributed systems.

Let’s not forget that COBOL and structured programming are not themselves difficult to learn. The challenge is in understanding decades of patched, repatched and patched-again legacy spaghetti code, which would be daunting for either an old mainframe jockey or a young hotshot app developer. The lack of documentation is a bigger problem than the aging of the COBOL programmer.

Again, a couple vendors probably made a few dollars selling “COBOL migration” tools, and some pundits probably made a few dollars stirring the pot and offering advice on how to rid us of these legacy systems. Yet, from where we sit, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Companies to Watch in 2013
You know the experience. You’re at a trade show, and you can’t help but be lured by the bells and whistles at the gigantic booths of the leading companies in the industry, excited to show you the latest releases of their aging products. But you know that the real fun is visiting the small booths that outline the show floor, because you know that’s where the real innovation is taking place. Those companies often are on the cutting edge, but lack the funding required for a massive marketing effort. Their hope is that folks will use their technology, and it will spread via word of mouth.

So with this month’s feature, “Companies to Watch: 2013,” we bring you those companies that can be found around the outskirts of the software development landscape, building out exciting projects that we encourage you to keep an eye on in the year ahead.

From cloud Platform-as-a-Service to NoSQL databases to business intelligence for Big Data, these companies are pushing the boundaries of what we thought we understood about writing enterprise applications, and it’s an exciting time. Who knows? One or more of these companies might assume a position of thought leadership and innovation, and wind up on the SD Times 100, which recognizes companies leading the conversation and direction of our industry.