Effective data management: Driving success in the automotive industry

The auto industry's infrastructure must be up to speed

2015 has been dubbed ‘the year of the connected device’. The ‘internet of things’ has been replaced by the ‘internet of everything’, filled with endless possibilities. Today, some 20 billion devices are connected to the internet – everything from tablets to toothbrushes, cars to coffee makers.

Here, David Maitland of Couchbase explains how the car as a connected device affects data management.

Connected devices have the potential to transform our economy (with the emergence of connected payments across devices), not to mention our society as the way we communicate evolves. One example of this is the evolution of the car.

The 1980s saw industry experts predicting flying cars by the year 2000. Whilst we aren’t quite there yet, the way we communicate with our cars has certainly evolved as new technologies have made our vehicles more intelligent. Today the vision of driving in a car, which communicates with your watch, that is connected to your smartphone is almost a reality.

You could argue that the car has changed gear, leaving its heritage behind and becoming just another connected device. As a result, IBM has predicted that the automotive industry will be the second largest generator of big data in 2015.

Every connected car has a wireless network that holds information about speed, acceleration, location and even on the drivers themselves. This data is useful to everyone from insurers to advertisers, who can use it to gain valuable access to their customers. But to be able to profit from this data deluge, the automotive industry needs to move fast to ensure its infrastructure is up to speed.

The volume and variety of data, from countless sources, presents both challenges and opportunities to car manufacturers across the globe. What does this mean for the industry? Will car mechanics need to be equipped with the tools for a factory reset? How will ‘being connected’ affect your annual MOT? Will petrol stations need the infrastructure in place to allow drivers to download their data?

The key to success will be how the automotive industry chooses to manage its captured data. How a business deals with data will greatly affect its use. The selection of the right database will quickly become a decisive factor when it comes to processing, accessing and evaluating structured and unstructured information.

David Maitland of Couchbase
David Maitland: Key to success will be how the automotive industry chooses to manages its captured data



This is where non-relational (NoSQL) databases enter the race. In contrast to relational databases (SQL), NoSQL is particularly well suited to tasks whose definitive structure cannot be fixed, as well as for systems that change dynamically. NoSQL databases can scan user profiles and query datasets with sub-millisecond latency to get the data needed to make optimised decisions – whether it’s for advertising, insurance claims or even calling a vehicle back to the garage. Essentially, NoSQL makes sure the right data gets to the right place without delays or processing issues.

Relational databases have been around since the 1970s so naturally they are out of line with the demands of big data, a relatively new phenomenon. Traditional databases cannot simply provide the flexibility to scale out and dynamically support users with increasing amounts of varied data. Additionally, relational databases are slow to use and get slower with time, as the data grows. This is particularly important to manufacturers as data gets bigger and demands more.

Fast-evolving automotive industry

Choosing the right database allows manufacturers to embrace the technology without the worry of detracting from their areas of expertise, making cars. The automotive industry is evolving fast. Manufacturers need to support their growing data requirements with flexible and scalable data management solutions to increase and maximise their profits with minimal investment. With the potential to adapt to changes in the market and expand in size whenever necessary, NoSQL resolves issues of data management with little cost in terms of time and budget.

The author is David Maitland, General Manager, EMEA at Couchbase, where he has been since March 2013. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, and held positions as Systems Developer, Technical Sales Consultant, Sales Strategic Account Manager and Sales Director.

Prior to joining Couchbase, he was EMEA Sales Director for Terracotta Inc, where he was responsible for building the EMEA business from scratch, which grew rapidly resulting in being acquired by Software AG. At Software AG David continued to build the business right across EMEA, integrating his team into Software AG’s Analytics and In-Memory Data Management Business. He has also worked at Infinitum building the Sales Consulting business also supporting and building Vodafone’s Multi Operational Company interoperability capability (This was Infinitum’s Major Client). At Oracle he was responsible for driving the Middleware business for Financial Services, at Sun Microsystems and Progress Software he was a Sales Consultant. At the start of his career David was a Developer building Systems for companies in their early phase such as WorldPay Bank PLC.

To date, David has brought Couchbase into the EMEA region building the business to take on large strategic enterprise accounts building the team and driving such activity across the entire region. Couchbase aims to provide the world’s most complete, most scalable and best performing NoSQL database. David Maitland says, “Couchbase Server is designed from a simple yet bold vision: build the first and best, general-purpose NoSQL database. That goal has resulted in an industry-leading solution that includes a shared nothing architecture, a single node-type, a built in caching layer, true auto-sharding and the world’s first NoSQL mobile offering.”



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