Larry Ellison, who founded Oracle back in the 1970s, is now one of the richest people in the world. For a considerable time now, Oracle has kept the market monopoly with them. Even IBM’s most celebrated database, DB2 wasn’t able to unseat the market leadership of Oracle as the database was running basically on mainframes. Oracle still holds the market monopoly for many of the transactional applications for business among Fortune 500 companies. Oracle also purchased MySQL and also Java. However, these two still remains free.
Choosing a business database
While choosing an appropriate database for business, people tend to get confused. Adopting an ideal business database management system is one of the crucial decisions any organization need to make. The two primary options to choose now are relational database management systems (SQL-based) or the new genre of non-relational (NoSQL) databases.
Both of these have advantages and disadvantages, which needed to be closely considered in order to choose the best for your purpose in hand. In this article series discussing the latest database trends of the year, here we will discuss the major differences between SQL vs. NoSQL and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
SQL or Structured Query Language is a flexible database programming language, which is conventionally used to manipulate data in any relational databases. As the name suggests, relational databases ideally use relations (in the form of interrelated tables) in order to store data and then match the data with the help of some common characteristics inside the dataset. Some of the most common RDBMS used in enterprise database management systems are SQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, Ingres, and Access, etc.
SQL can be used to create data in the forms of objects as tables and data schema, which will describe the database fields in the form of columns. A single record in the relational databases is defined by a row, and rows are further formed into columns and tables.
Unlike SQL databases, NoSQL can be considered as a self-describing data model, which doesn’t require any specific schema. This also doesn’t enforce any relationship between the tables in various cases. All the documents under the database are JSON documents, which can read and understand the entities.
NoSQL is deemed to be high performing with its non-relational model and also utilizes a wide range of customized data models. NoSQL databases are largely recognizable for their scalability, ease to use, wider availability, and stronger resilience. The examples of NoSQL database are MarkLogic, MongoDB, CloudDB, Couchbase, Amazon’s Dynamo DB, etc.
Differences between SQL and NoSQL
There are a lot of dissimilarities among these fundamentally different databases. It is crucial to understand these differences for the business owners to take a decision as to which one to choose as the ideal database for their organization. An expert opinion of DBMS consultants like RemoteDBA.com can also be taken to understand the exact need. The primary differences between SQL and NoSQL are in terms of:
- The language
Let’s explore these further
The major difference among SQL vs. NoSQL is the language. As we discussed, SQL uses a structured language to define and manipulate data. If further allows SQL to be highly versatile and so widely used. However, this same functionality makes it restrictive too. SQL demands the users to stick to predefined data schemas in order to determine the structure of the database before setting it up. The data input should also follow the same structure, which can entail good preparation upfront and careful execution of the database.
On the other hand, NoSQL database follows a dynamic schema to incorporate unstructured data, which can be stored in a wide variety of ways as graph-based, column-oriented, document-oriented, or as a key-value store. This kind of flexibility will let the users to custom create the documents without any need to pre-define or plan the database structure. The users can add fields on the go, and the syntax also can vary from one database to another. It also allows the users to define a unique structure to each document and enjoy more freedom in terms of database set up and administration.
Another important thing to consider while considering SQL vs. NoSQL is the structure of the database. SQL demands the databases to be table-based. It makes SQL an ideal option for those applications which require multi-row based transactions. You can see a typical example of these in accounting systems or in many legacy systems which are built in relational database models. NoSQL is more like key-value pairs or wide-column stores as described above.
Another huge difference to consider in SQL vs. NoSQL is the difference in scalability. In terms of SQL databases, these are primarily vertically scalable. This means the users can increase the data load on servers by increasing the capacity of the hardware components like RAM, CPU, or SSD. On the other hand, NoSQL has horizontally scalability, in which you can handle the additional volume of data by adding servers in real-time to the database. A NoSQL database has the ability to grow bigger and more powerful by making it the more preferred choice for larger datasets, which are constantly evolving.
We can see that SQL is more matured and stronger for its age, and also with the support a stronger community around it when compared to that of NoSQL which is younger. There are thousands of support forums and material available by the experts from where you can gain knowledge and industry best practices in terms of SQL. Even though NoSQL is largely accepted lately, the community around it is still not defined well compared to SQL. However, with the invention or newer NoSQL databases, we can surely expect its support also getting expanded over time.
Choosing the best database model needed to be decided purely based on your database requirements in hand. The ideal way to determine between SQL vs. NoSQL is to analyze the functionality of your application. Check for the factors like whether your business may get benefited from a predefined structure and schemas with the need for multi-row transactions or unstructured data management. It is also good to consider the expert opinion of professional database consultants who can assess your business needs and then suggest the most appropriate database model and also the ideal database to consider.