Not long ago, data was stored in physical files that were archived into racks of folders filling up entire rooms in the offices of large corporations. Then came computers, and the go to technique for storage changed to flat file databases. But times have changed again now, and things are more complicated than ever before.
Today, SQL databases have become an integral part of the IT infrastructure of any organization. For example, MySQL, an RDBMS based SQL implementation for the web, now powers very large-scale websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. With this said, MySQL is the world’s most popular database and remains so because of its open source nature.
Technology changes rapidly and now the new buzzword in the database arena is NoSQL. What is NoSQL, you might wonder? It is a database technology different from MySQL, primarily because it doesn’t involve the Structured Query Language.
|Relational Databases (SQL)||Non-relational Databases (NoSQL)|
The argument about “SQL vs. NoSQL” is in essence the comparison of relational vs. non-relational databases. The table above lists some of the popular RDBMS and non-relational database technologies. So let’s get to the point now: what are the key differences between MySQL and NoSQL databases?
The points below highlight some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of NoSQL.
- Non-Relational means table-less: NoSQL databases are non-relational, hence, very different from SQL databases. This means they are easier to manage and they provide a higher level of flexibility with newer data models.
- Mostly Open Source: The open source nature of NoSQL databases means it is now possible to use large data hungry applications at a lower price point. This is because open source technologies are free of cost.
- Easier scalability through support for Map Reduce: NoSQL database experts often use elastic scalability as a major selling point of NoSQL. NoSQL databases are designed to function on full throttle even with low-cost hardware.
- No need to develop a detailed database model: The non-relational nature of a NoSQL database allows database architects to quickly create a database without needing to develop a detailed (fine-grained) database model. This saves a lot of development time.
- Lack of community: NoSQL is relatively new and lacks a healthy community. Meanwhile, MySQL has a seasoned community willing to help you start on your journey into the world of databases.
- Lack of reporting tools: A major problem with NoSQL databases is the lack of reporting tools for analysis and performance testing. However, with MySQL, you can find a wide array of reporting tools to help you prove your application’s validity.
- Doesn’t conform to ACID properties: Relational database systems function on the ACID paradigm (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability). NoSQL databases don’t.
- Lack of standardization: In order for NoSQL to grow, it needs a standard query language like SQL. This is a major issue highlighted by researchers at Microsoft, who claim that NoSQL’s lack of standardization can cause a problem during migration. Besides this, standardization is important for the database industry to unify itself in future.
NoSQL databases are becoming a major part of the database landscape today, and with their handful of advantages, they can be a real game changer in the enterprise arena. However, NoSQL isn’t ripe yet, and professionals in the industry need to approach it with caution. This is because it lacks the maturity that SQL databases like MySQL offer. If your application doesn’t fall into the category of the likes of Google, Yahoo, Facebook or Wikipedia, you should reconsider your options for using NoSQL and stick with MySQL instead. Not only is there a major skills gap with finding NoSQL professionals, but issues like analytics, performance reporting and migration also need to be considered.