To understand NoSQL you need to understand that is uses a less structured approach than SQL. In effect, a NoSQL database does not require a schema like SQL does. Instead NoSQL databases describe themselves – and there is no mandate for relationships between tables under all scenarios, whereas SQL is by definition relational.
Furthermore, NoSQL databases exclusive use JSON documents. These are easy to understand and self-contained. As a result, NoSQL databases are non-relational and high performance, capable of using a wide range of data models. NoSQL also has a reputation for ease of use and scalability, while developers also say that NoSQL is very resilient. NoSQL is now also widely available.
Typical example of NoSQL databases include Amazon’s Dynamo DB as well as MongoDB, MarkLogic plus CloudDB and Couchbase.
What’s different about NoSQL?
If you’re debating the use of NoSQL vs SQL you should consider important factors including the scalability of both, the community support and the language and structure in use. Let’s take a look.
Unlike SQL, NoSQL is not as structured – it uses a dynamic schema to describe unstructured data and developers can store this unstructured data in a range of different ways – document, column or graph based or even organized in a KeyValue store.
So, developers don’t need to spend quite as much time preparing their database thanks to the flexibility offered by NoSQL. Fields can be added on the fly and you can use different syntax from one database to another. Developers have a lot of scope to customise because every document can have a unique, individual structure.
Scalability and flexibility
Because NoSQL database scale horizontally, admins can easily provision additional resources simply be adding further servers to a database. It makes it much easier to cope with increased traffic – a NoSQL database can easily become more powerful and bigger.
Sysadmins and developers find that NoSQL more readily handles datasets that change, evolve and grow – whereas SQL is less scalable and flexible in that respect. The design of NoSQL databases also allows more flexibility as a NoSQL database can be based on key value pairs, graph databases, document or wide column stores.
SQL has been around for four decades, but NoSQL is a newer type of database. As such, NoSQL doesn’t offer quite the depth of support both commercial and from the community, however NoSQL has been around a while, so it does not mean that there is no support at all. Expect the support for NoSQL to grow in the coming years.
Is NoSQL the right database for you?
The type of database you choose will have future your repercussions for your application so it is worth carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages of NoSQL vs SQL. Of course, there’s a reason why NoSQL is so quickly becoming so established as a big force in the database world: many applications benefit from NoSQL flexibility.
NoSQL is particularly useful if your application needs big data integration and if your application prefers an open source and easily scalable solution. However, some applications will perform better with a classic SQL implementation – you really have to do the research yourself
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