SiteWit Corporation: SQL or NoSQL? That is the Question!

Muma Case Review  •  Volume 2  •  2017  •  pp. 001-022
Ricardo Lasa, CEO and co-founder of SiteWit Corporation, was always chastising his technical team that the “biggest risk facing the company is the engine.” SiteWit provided cross-platform services aimed at helping small (or even medium-sized) business customers effectively advertise on search engines like Google (AdWords) and Bing (adCenter), as well as other online social networking or display advertising venues. Essentially, SiteWit was a web analytics company that tracks all the detailed organic and paid advertising traffic on client websites. SiteWit used this very detailed data to deliver software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that handled a variety of tasks from automated keyword bidding to campaign optimization. These products relied on a foundation of website analytic data warehousing and automated data mining, so data quality was of paramount concern.

Lasa and his team faced a critical technology challenge in scaling the core database systems to meet rapidly escalating data volumes. Should he stick with well-known relational database technologies? His core team was well versed in the Microsoft technology stack and had worked together for more than a decade on software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Or should he re-implement core components in newer, highly distributed NoSQL databases in search of competitive advantages? So, the decision could be summarized as follows: SQL or NoSQL? That was the question which had four possible solutions:

1. Do nothing. SiteWit Corporation was a lean startup with limited resources. Did we really need to add new technologies and more uncertainty at this stage?
2. Proceed cautiously with NoSQL technology through limited experiments. It might be reasonable to pick some component that could be implemented using NoSQL technology to gain experience and validate the technology.
3. Develop a new product, alone or through a partnership, that makes use of NoSQL technologies. A couple of potential SiteWit partners were experimenting with or even already resting firmly on NoSQL technologies, so one strategy might be to learn through collaboration.
4. Take a leap of faith.

Again, SiteWit was an early stage company facing plenty of risk factors. Adding a few more for an important competitive advantage may be a reasonable tradeoff.
Analytics, database, Hadoop, MongoDB, NoSQL, SQL
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