So much has changed in the approach to database management systems (DBMS) since IBMFinancial trader with database management systems deployed one of the first systems for the Apollo space mission in 1968. After talking to my neighbor about this very topic this weekend, I’m realizing how much things have really evolved.

My neighbor, a retired IT manager from one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world, remembers when only a select few individuals were given access to their company’s internal DBMS. These lucky few, normally very statistically minded people, used the system as a data warehouse – pulling the information they needed to analyze by using a variety of methods for statistical modeling.

In contrast to today’s business environment, employees with many roles and decision-making responsibilities can tap into a DBMS. As technology continues to evolve, DBMS has become a source for real-time, competitive insight. Even more importantly, the overall landscape and priorities have changed – and so has the current approach to DBMS.

Changing priorities calls for a new approach to DBMS

Here’s a snapshot of some important circumstances that are forever altering the way organizations address DBMS:

1. Maintenance costs are just as important as the initial price tag.

Decades ago, managers normally based purchase decisions on initial set-up costs. Now, maintenance costs and impact on future budget plans – which tend to shrink over time – are concerns that sometimes far outweigh implementation costs. The problem with maintenance is that organizations often have little or no control over maintenance spending. And software vendors know this. They know that after organizations buy software, they are going to pay forever – far more than the original software cost. So paying the annual maintenance fee becomes a large, non-negotiable issue that organizations have to swallow, whether they like it or not.

2. The days of home-grown, in-house applications are over – almost.

Once upon a time, organizations of all sizes built their own applications. But that has changed – drastically. Businesses are now buying application software (or at least their core applications) from a vendor. Many organizations have a core of operational applications that are standard for the industry and a bevy of analytical applications based on data that comes from those core applications. And an interesting thing about these industry-wide applications: No longer is the organization tied to a particular DBMS vendor by the applications it runs.

3. Real-time, detailed data and analysis are critical.

Historically, decision making centered on the few operational, transaction-oriented applications. However, some of today’s operational decision making is done through core applications that run on detailed data updated nearly every minute of the day. Far more professionals use data today than just a few years ago, and the types of decisions and people making those decisions have changed. Analysts processing the data don’t care how they get their data and why they get it in a certain way – as long as they get it. Core applications providing data may as well be coming from the moon, as long as the data arrives in a timely manner and is accurate and useful.

As compelling and real the reasons for never changing a DBMS were in the past, current rules and conventional wisdom have changed. Gone is the idea that a DBMS is a permanent fixture in the IT infrastructure. Find out if it makes sense for your organization to swap out your DBMS. Take a look at the white paper So Long to Conventional Wisdom Around Data Migration.