NoSQL: It is a yes, but..

NoSQL? Hmm. Come to think of it, that is a somewhat unusual way to name a product category, by the “absence” of something (does seem to lack a standard query language).

For example, would you call electric cars “NoGas?” Doesn’t sound right, does it? But in the tech world, clearly we can take some more liberties when it comes to naming products and categories.

About 80 percent of data in organizations is unstructured, per a widely quoted statistic. NoSQL databases are evidently better at taking on unstructured data. Yet relational databases continue to rule, accounting for 88.9 percent of database mentions across the web, according to the website DB-Engines

Seems like an imbalance that should be getting corrected by a rapidly rising ascendancy of NoSQL databases.

Stepping back into the past, we have had several database types. You had the network and hierarchical models. And then the relational model, which rapidly became the dominant model. For a long while, when you thought of databases you thought relational, the words practically became synonymous. Any conversation about databases soon became filled with relational speak.

The rise of NoSQL appears to be changing that dynamic.  

However there are many of them.  While relational is not going away any time soon.

Therefore it looks like we may be moving from a market dominated by one type of database model and a few large vendors to several database models offered by numerous vendors, many of which are open source. Certainly it should be good for customers: more choice, more competition, lower prices. Vendor lock in probably doesn’t go away but being largely open source certainly helps.

What does this new world mean for developers? Accessing data will likely become a more complex task. Developers will likely have to think harder about where the data is stored, how it is structured. Therefore the role of the developer will become even more important.

More power to the developer. And more power to the user.

Yet in a recent InformationWeek enterprise survey found SQL Server to be in production or pilot with 75% of respondents while the corresponding number for Oracle was 47%. Just 5% were found to use MongoDB and other NoSQL databases were further behind.

So what gives? Of course there could be several reasons. But one of the biggest ones seems to be that as an enterprise buyer, how would I know which horse to back? There are so many of them.

So a shakeout does look inevitable.  With just a few left standing. MongoDB seems to be on top right now but some more well-placed acquisitions by the likes of Microsoft or Oracle could perhaps change the picture dramatically. After all they have the cash and the client base to make things happen.

For now, more and more buyers do seem to be saying yes to NoSQL.


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