Blurring The Lines Between SQL And NoSQL Databases

The lines between SQL and NoSQL will start to blur this year, said FoundationDB co-founder, Dave Rosenthal in a recent interview with IT Trends & Analysis. One would have to consider IBM’s decision to buy NoSQL cloud database startup Cloudant at the end of February a pretty good indicator that the blurring is well under way.

“IBM is leading the charge in helping its clients take advantage of big data, cloud and mobile,” said Sean Poulley, vice president, Databases & Data Warehousing, IBM. “Cloudant sits squarely at the nexus of these three key transformational areas and enables clients to rapidly deliver an entirely new level of innovative, engaging and data-rich apps to the marketplace.”

According to the 2014 State of Database Technology Survey, when it comes to large organizations, the incumbent relational databases (RDBMS) from (46%), (34% and 25% ), and IBM (DB2 46%) still dominate. In contrast, just 5% use MongoDB, 3% have bought , and 1% use Vertica, and even FileMaker beat startup darlings Cassandra, Riak, and MariaDB. The top six databases in use are all relational; MongoDB was the only NoSQL vendor to crack the top-10 list, in 10th place.

Rosenthal said the two big trends driving NoSQL are architecture – the move from move from big monolithic servers running in your data center to clusters of servers running maybe in your data center, but maybe in the cloud – and experimentation. Because everybody is building these new designs, there’s been this huge experimentation going on.

“For decades, database was synonymous with SQL. What people are realizing is that can be database that doesn’t speak SQL.”

When you’re small, you only have two ways to go, up or out according to another recent report, and NoSQL is looking at a compound annual growth rate of 53.09% over the 2013-18 period. The growth of the NoSQL market is influenced by many drivers, of which the increased adoption of big data solutions is an important driver but the lack of awareness about the potential of NoSQL is a major challenge.

Another issue is that organizations lack the basic infrastructure facilities to adopt NoSQL. The key vendors dominating this space are , , MongoDB, and Oracle, with honorable mentions to Aerospike, , , , and .

These forecasts are drawing a lot of interest – and money – for NoSQL database vendors. MongoDB, DataStax, FoundationDB and Couchbase received US$150 million, $45 million, $17 million and $25 million, respectively, this year. The RDBMS market will have revenues of “around $30 billion for 2013, growing by around 8%,” said Nick Heudecker, a research director at Gartner. Throw in the NoSQL CAGR of 53% (80%, according to FoundationDB), and feeding frenzy is understandable.

Back in November when FoundationDB announced $17 million in new financing, Rosenthal said the company sees the future of database technology as combining the scalable, distributed architecture of NoSQL with the power of ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability: a set of properties that guarantee that database transactions are processed reliably) transactions. Matt Aslett, Research Director, Data Management and Analytics, 451 Research, said its “multi-model approach will become more important as enterprises look to standardize on next-generation distributed data platforms that are capable of serving a variety of consistency requirements and query approaches.”

At little earlier in 2013, the company acquired its own database startup, Akiban, and it will be bringing its amazing SQL database engine to market later this year as a layer running on top of FoundationDB. It said that will be a true ANSI SQL database operating as a module directly on top of a transactional “NoSQL” engine where you can even run the SQL layer on a FoundationDB cluster that’s also supporting other data models, like graph or document. That’s about as blurry as it gets, it said.

Rosenthal said there are over 200 NoSQL systems out there and it’s not uncommon for developers to have 6, 8, 10 different NoSQL databases, and they have to adapt to them. “When does this end?”

The question from the CIO is how many will I have to adopt? “It’s definitely not one, but they don’t want to adopt 200.”

Somewhere this is a happy medium, between SQL and NoSQL, and one NoSQL and many NoSQL databases. Rosenthal is confident that FoundationDB will be “leading the charge to blur the lines between NoSQL and SQL”.


Author: Steve Wexler

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