Data is a commodity.


Don’t believe me? Let’s see how the Oxford dictionary defines “commodity.”


“A thing that is useful or has a useful quality.”


No good researcher would stop at just one source. Just for fun, let’s check out this definition from Merriam-Webster:


“Something useful or valued.”


Or, this one from


“An article of trade or commerce, especially a product as distinguished from a service.”


There’s a lot of data on the definition of the word “commodity.” And that’s the point, really. Data itself is a commodity, something to be bought and sold.


And data, like commodities, comes in various forms.


For example, data can be structured or unstructured. Structured data is data that we associate with being stored in a database, either relational or non-relational. Unstructured data is data that has no pre-defined data model, or is not organized in any pre-defined way. Examples of unstructured data include things like images, audio files, instant messages, and even this word document I am writing now.


Data can be relational or non-relational. Relational data is structured in such a way that data entities have relationships, often in the form of primary and foreign keys. This is the nature of traditional relational database management systems such as Microsoft SQL Server. Non-relational data is more akin to distinct entities that have no relationships to any other entity. The key-value pairs found in many NoSQL database platforms are examples of non-relational data.


And while data can come in a variety of forms, not all data is equal. If there is one thing I want you to remember from this article it is this: data lasts longer than code. Treat it right.


To do that, we now have Azure CosmosDB.


Introduced at Microsoft Build™, CosmosDB is an attempt to make data the primary focus for everything you do, no matter where you are. (Microsoft has even tagged CosmosDB as “planet-scale,” which makes me think they need to go back and think about what “cosmos” means to most people. But I digress.)


I want you to understand the effort Microsoft is taking to the NewSQL space here. CosmosDB is a database platform as a service that can store any data that you want: key-value pair, graph, document, relational, non-relational, structured, unstructured…you get the idea.


CosmosDB is a platform as a service, meaning the admin tasks that most DBAs would be doing (backups, tuning, etc.) are done for you. Microsoft will guarantee performance, transactional consistency, high availability, and recovery.


In short, CosmosDB makes storing your data easier than ever before. Data is a commodity and Microsoft wants as big a market share as possible.


I can’t predict the future and tell you CosmosDB is going to be the killer app for cloud database platforms. But I can understand why it was built.


It was built for the data. It was built for all the data.