Nonrelational Databases in a Big Data Environment

Nonrelational databases do not rely on the table/key model endemic to RDBMSs (relational database management systems). In short, specialty data in the big data world requires specialty persistence and data manipulation techniques. Although these new styles of databases offer some answers to your big data challenges, they are not an express ticket to the finish line.

One emerging, popular class of nonrelational database is called not only SQL (NoSQL). Originally the originators envisioned databases that did not require the relational model and SQL. As these products were introduced into the market, the definition softened a bit and now they are thought of as “not only SQL,” again bowing to the ubiquity of SQL.

The other class is databases that do not support the relational model, but rely on SQL as a primary means of manipulating the data within. Even though relational and nonrelational databases have similar fundamentals, how the fundamentals are accomplished creates the differentiation. Nonrelational database technologies have the following characteristics in common:

  • Scalability: In this instance,this refers to the capability to write data across multiple data stores simultaneously without regard to physical limitations of the underlying infrastructure. Another important dimension is seamlessness. The databases must be able to expand and contract in response to data flows and do so invisibly to the end users.

  • Data and Query model: Instead of the row, column, key structure, nonrelational databases use specialty frameworks to store data with a requisite set of specialty query APIs to intelligently access the data.

  • Persistence design: Persistence is still a critical element in nonrelational databases. Due to the high velocity, variety, and volume of big data, these databases use difference mechanisms for persisting the data. The highest performance option is “in memory,” where the entire database is kept in the very fast memory system of your servers.

  • Interface diversity: Although most of these technologies support RESTful APIs as their “go to” interface, they also offer a wide variety of connection mechanisms for programmers and database managers, including analysis tools and reporting/visualization.

  • Eventual Consistency: While RDBMS uses ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) for ensuring the consistency of data, non-relational DBMS use BASE. BASE stands for Basically Available, Soft state, and Eventual Consistency. Eventual consistency is most important because it is responsible for conflict resolution when data is in motion between nodes in a distributed implementation. The data state is maintained by the software and the access model relies on basic availability.

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