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NoSQL Basics

By Steve Jones,

Last year there was quite a bit of press devoted to the NOSQL movement, emphasizing the scalability and power of this class of databases. They have not been well known, but have been used to power some of the very well known Internet companies out there. Companies like Google, Facebook, and others are using NoSQL databases in places, achieving the scalability that many RDBMS's have struggled to achieve without enormous costs.

I ran across an article that talks about some of the basics of what is classified as a NOSQL database. It's written more for managers, and it does a good job of warning them that NOSQL is not the "answer" to all your performance problems. It's a piece of technology that fits in some places and in some situations.

Should you care about NOSQL? I think you should, if for no other reason than some manager will ask you about it at some point. Or a developer will want to build an application using a NOSQL database. A flat "no" from the data group is counter-productive,  and is not appropriate. If you are going to rationally argue against a new technology, you should have some basic understanding of how it works, what problems it solves, and engage in a logical debate.

There are lots of good NOSQL articles out there, and perhaps the first thing you should learn is that there are different types of technologies for solving different problems. Cassandra is not interchangeable with MongoDB, and Voldemort is different from the other two. None of them is a direct replacement for SQL Server (or another RDBMS), but they do work in different areas. If you've never seen the CAP triangle, take a look at it now.

Many of you are data professionals, and SQL Server specialists, and that's fine. That doesn't mean you shouldn't learn a little something about other technologies, and how they might compare and contrast with SQL Server. Here's a nice basic article from SQL Server Master to get you started.

Steve Jones

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