Things We Explain: NoSQL vs SQL

"The box where your data is stored."

Things We Explain: NoSQL vs SQL

900 600 Jose R. Guay

“The box where your data is stored.”

Oftentimes our clients know little on how their databases work… actually, almost everyone who does not work with databases knows little on how they work, so we thought it was time we brought this topic to our blog.

Designing and maintaining databases are services we provide at CSW Solutions, so it made sense to explore this with our community, since this is also part of conversations we have with our clients.

Our goal is to take you through a simple narration of what databases and database management systems are, and how different databases work (in this case NoSQL vs SQL), especially delivered for non-technologists.

Databases & database management systems: a quick story

Databases are linked to memory. These days, apps (like games), devices (like computers), and servers, all make use of memory and come equipped with the necessary hardware to process information, and save it to be used in the future.

A database is just an organized collection of data.

Database management systems (DBMSs) are computer software applications that interact with the user, other applications, and the database itself to capture and analyze data. A general-purpose DBMS is designed to allow the definition, creation, querying, update, and administration of databases. These systems have been developed to help solving different programming needs.

SQL And NoSQL are examples of database management systems

DBMSs are based on database models (structures defined for handling the data). Each database system implements a different database model to structure the data that is being managed. There are a few different types of database models which provide the means of structuring the data; the most popular is the Relational Model (SQL).

Recently, the different systems and applications called NoSQL databases gained popularity by eradicating the strictly structured data style defined within the relational model; “NoSQL” means either “No SQL” or “Not only SQL”. These systems provide a lot of flexibility and ease, and offer many ways to keep and work with the data for specific use cases efficiently.

NoSQL encompasses a wide variety of different database technologies that were developed in response to a rise in the volume of data stored about users, objects and products, the frequency in which this data is accessed, and performance and processing needs. Relational databases, on the other hand, were not designed to cope with the scale and agility challenges that face modern applications, nor were they built to take advantage of the cheap storage and processing power available today.

SQL vs NoSQL: main differences

1. SQL databases are primarily called relational databases (RDBMS); NoSQL databases are primarily called non-relational or distributed database.
2. SQL databases represent data in form of tables, which consist of n number of rows of data; whereas NoSQL databases are the collection of key-value pair, documents, graph databases or wide-column stores which do not have standard schema definitions which it needs to adhered to.
3. On scalability: In most typical situations, SQL databases are vertically scalable (you can manage increasing load by increasing the memory in a single server). NoSQL databases are horizontally scalable (you can just add a few more servers in your database infrastructure to handle the large traffic).
4. SQL database examples: MySql, Oracle, Sqlite, Postgres and MS-SQL. NoSQL database examples: MongoDB, BigTable, Redis, RavenDb, Cassandra, Hbase, Neo4j and CouchDb
5. SQL databases are a good fit for complex query environments, whereas NoSQL databases are not a good fit for complex queries.
6. Regarding the type of data to be stored: SQL databases are not the best fit for hierarchical data storage. NoSQL database is highly preferred for large data sets (i.e for big data).
7. SQL example: MySQL. NoSQL example: MongoDB.

Database systems & your business

Conversations and case studies regarding which type of database is recommended for small businesses is ongoing and, as everything on the web, constantly evolving. There’s a current that thinks that rational databases (like SQL) are better for small businesses. The reasoning behind this is: NoSQL’s main advantage is its ability to capture thousands of records per second, and it doesn’t make sense to have the mechanics of a RDBMS slowing down the process.

With the massive growth expected in the Internet of Things and the enormous big data sets this will produce, small businesses should start looking into database systems, and taking measures to adopt the benefits of these technologies.

Chat with your favorite technologists (hopefully CSW Solutions!) about selecting the right system for your project; we hope this post was insightful and illustrative as to how to start that conversation.