The key differences between SQL and NoSQL DBs.



Experts say that the world’s data is doubling every two years. This epic increase in Big Data in recent times has highlighted the limitations of reliance on traditional forms of data storage and management and focused attention on new methods for addressing the volume and variety and veracity of structured and unstructured data. 


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. 


Ever since the 1970s,  SQL databases have been an integral part of the IT infrastructure of organizations. And today  MySQL, an RDBMS based SQL implementation for the web, now powers very large-scale websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. In fact,  MySQL is the world’s most popular database and remains so because of its open source nature.


The key differences between SQL and NoSQL DBs.


Technology changes rapidly and now the new buzzword in the database world is NoSQL. The market is a formidable one with projected growth forecast to reach $3.4 Billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21% for the period 2015 – 2020.


What is NoSQL, you might wonder? NoSQL is a database technology different from MySQL, primarily because it doesn’t involve the Structured Query Language.



Relational Databases (SQL)

Non-relational Databases (NoSQL)





SQL Server




The argument about “SQL vs. NoSQL” is 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 and Low-Cost: The open source nature of NoSQL databases makes them an appealing solution for smaller organizations with limited budgets. The top NoSQL databases on the market today (MongoDB, MarkLogic, Couchbase, CloudDB, and Amazon’s Dynamo DB) allow for rapid processing of real-time Big Data applications in ways that are affordable.


  • 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.





  • Community not as well defined: While its continuing to grow rapidly, the NoSQL community is relatively new and lacks the maturity of the MySQL user base. Obviously, NoSQL is growing rapidly, but for now MySQL is hard to beat for its vast network of highly experienced end users.


  • 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.


  • 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 the 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. Lower cost, easier scalability, and open source features make NoSQL an appealing option for many companies looking to integrate in Big Data. However, NoSQL is still a relatively young technology without the set of standards that SQL databases like MySQL offer.  As with any major business decision, IT leaders need to weigh their options and determine what features are most important to them in a database. Some suggest that NoSQL is the way of the future, whereas others are more concerned by its lack of standardization and ACID compliance. At the end of the day, the choice between NoSQL and SQL depends on the complex business needs of an organization and volume and variety of data it consumes.


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  • Thor

    Just had a SaaS vendor tell me that they couldn’t do a REPLACE because they’re using NoSQL instead of MySQL and that I’d have to manually edit almost 300 entries. Thanks NoSQL. Thanks a lot.