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NoSQL Is Not Everywhere

By Steve Jones,

How many places really use NoSQL? Facebook, one of the largest sites on the Internet, has had their Cassandra database service receive  a lot of press over the last year. In pointing to them as an example, many technologists use the argument that if Facebook uses Cassandra to run their extremely data intensive business, then it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Cassandra might be great for your business, but is it the best choice? How does that argument apply when Microsoft.com, also one of the largest web sites in the world, serves millions of users a day with SQL Server as the back end? Twitter also uses an RDBMS to store it's tweets. It uses the MySQL database, an RDBMS, though they are investigating and integrating Cassandra in places.

The point is that NoSQL databases, like .NET assemblies or J2EE applets, are just technologies. They're just tools used to build an application, and they can be built well, or built poorly. Is Cassandra bad because it didn't work well for Digg? No, just like those companies that have switched off SQL Server to some other platform aren't necessarily doing so because SQL Server can't meet their needs.

It's up to the architect to put together a great platform for an application, using whatever tools they choose. Hopefully they are choosing those tools because the fit the problem, or the skills of the developers. I'd be disappointed in an architect that chooses something because it's new, or discards another technology because of some personal bias.

Steve Jones


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