Click here to monitor SSC
SQLServerCentral is supported by Red Gate Software Ltd.
 
Log in  ::  Register  ::  Not logged in
 
 
 

Basically Available, Soft State, Eventually Consistent

By Phil Factor,

Many special-purpose databases don't need, or use, either the relational model or a declarative language such as SQL. An interesting group of these are sometimes called BASE systems (Basically Available, Soft State, Eventually consistent) and they work well with simple data models holding vast volumes of data. Google's BigTable, Dojo's Persevere, Amazon's Dynamo, Facebook's Cassandra, and a host of others.

The 'NoSQL movement' is the latest group for developers who are working with or building non-relational BASE distributed databases, and particularly the open-source varieties. This would be no more than an interesting aside, to remind us that SQL-based relational databases are general-purpose tools and there will always be, and always has been, a thriving industry of special purpose database solutions. However, journalists commenting on the startup of the 'NoSQL Movement' cannot resist a tease. "Like the Patriots, who rebelled against Britain's heavy taxes, NoSQLers came to share how they had overthrown the tyranny of slow, expensive relational databases in favor of more efficient and cheaper ways of managing data." burbles Eric Lai over at Computerworld.

Sometimes, when the red mist of radicalism descends, it is possible to lose sight of the fact that RDBMSs such as SQL Server fit closely with the requirements of complex commercial business systems. Your system may, in fact be trivial, but hold huge quantities of data. Everyone thinks they are working with highly complex data models. It is part of our vanity as developers. It leads to absurd generalisations such as "Relational databases give you too much. They force you to twist your object data to fit a RDBMS". The problem often boils down to a developer with a filofax-sized database having to use a grown-up RDBMS. There will always be tears in such circumstances.

From a distance, an RDBMS such as SQL Server may seem like overkill, especially for a simple social-networking website. As soon as you get to the details, such as concurrency, consistency, scalability, and ease of refactoring then the idea of an open-source EAV database alternative can start to get less attractive. Even the idea of ditching the use of SQL soon hits problems. A Declarative language may seem odd to those who are only familiar with proccedural coding, but it is a fine way to allow parallel processing. I must admit that occasionally, when faced with designing an IT project that deals with data that strays from the conventional relational model, I've flirted with the use of special-purpose databases, but there always comes a time when the niggles of the details of implementation start rising exponentially, and one wakes from the dream to return to the SQL-based Relational database systems such as SQL Server.

Total article views: 254 | Views in the last 30 days: 1
 
Related Articles
FORUM

Modeling relational databases

Modeling relational databases

FORUM

Data Warehouse - Dimensional Model vs Relational Model

The difference between the dimensional model and the relational model for a data warehouse

ARTICLE

Stairway to T-SQL DML Level 3: Implementing a Relational Model in SQL Server

This level of the stairway details the creation of a relational database, as well as filling in some...

FORUM

Tool for online viewing of DB relational model

Need a tool to view DB relational model online

ARTICLE

An Introduction to Database Models

Frank returns this week with a good non academic overview of the different types of database models ...

Tags
database weekly    
editorial    
 
Contribute

Join the most active online SQL Server Community

SQL knowledge, delivered daily, free:

Email address:  

You make SSC a better place

As a member of SQLServerCentral, you get free access to loads of fresh content: thousands of articles and SQL scripts, a library of free eBooks, a weekly database news roundup, a great Q & A platform… And it’s our huge, buzzing community of SQL Server Professionals that makes it such a success.

Join us!

Steve Jones
Editor, SQLServerCentral.com

Already a member? Jump in:

Email address:   Password:   Remember me: Forgotten your password?
Steve Jones