2012 Year in Review: Graph Databases on the Rise

Happy 2013! It looks like another great year is in the forecast for graphs. This is the first of two blog posts, looking back at what has happened this past year, and then ahead to 2013.

Growth in Graphs & the Neo4j Community

2012 was an amazing year for graph databases, Neo4j, and the Neo4j community. For the first time since Euler traced lines on paper representing hops over the Pregel river, graphs are finding their way into the mainstream. An increasing number of developers are discovering the power, performance, and flexibility of graph databases. As a result, many of the world’s most innovative companies are now using graph databases to solve problems that are either too costly, too complex, or too cumbersome to address with traditional databases. Since mid-summer, we’ve taken these stories and posted them daily on the news blog. It’s the first thing I read when I get up every morning, and I can’t think of a better way to start my day!

I’d like to start this blog by talking about the amazing community that has built up around Neo4j. 2012 saw it grow significantly across the globe. The year started out with meetup groups in six cities. There are now regular Meetups in more than 30. In total, more than 80 Neo4j Meetups were held in over a dozen countries last year, a figure that is rapidly growing. The number of contributors to Neo4j has nearly doubled in that same period. And the discussion traffic in the Neo4j Google Group–not to mention other online forums such as Stackoverflow, Quora, Twitter, and the like–is up more than five-fold in the last year.

Some of you joined us at GraphConnect last November to participate in the world’s first graph database conference in San Francisco. GraphConnect drew over 300 attendees from nine countries, with more than 150 organizations being represented. In December – the same month that the 451 Group reported that Neo4j had the highest rate of growth among NOSQL databases – we saw over 20,000 new Neo4j databases come online.

This brings me to product. One of the things that the Neo Technology team is very proud of is the stability and reliability of the Neo4j database. Most of our Engineering team’s waking moments are devoted to this. We live in an incredible world where new database management systems are being released every week. While it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of new products and features, one cannot underestimate the effort – including years of real-world shaking out – that it takes for a technology to reliably perform and operate under the wide range of conditions that can occur in the real-world.

This past year we saw these efforts recognized by this thriving community (you!) that now includes more than twenty Global 2000 organizations as commercial customers. A growing number of startups, including some of the hottest tech companies, are choosing Neo4j for critical parts of their business. One customer, a large logistics company, is routing more than 2000 parcel deliveries per second with Neo4j. Another has centered their entire $100B+ enterprise around an in-house Master Data Management application built around Neo4j. Yet another is running a mission-critical cloud application on a Neo4j cluster that spans three continents. Most commercial deployments of Neo4j are systems are 24X7 with little or no downtime, some of this with very large graphs. (Some of our customers have more than half of the Facebook graph in a Neo4j cluster.) From network management to bioinformatics, logistics to gaming, and content publishing to social, Neo4j is finding its way into the heart of more and more companies, changing the game when it comes to working with related data.

Backing Neo4j is a now 50+ person strong company, more than double what we were a year ago! We are based in San Mateo, California, with offices in Sweden, the U.K., Germany, France, and Belgium, not to mention New Zealand and Kuala Lumpur! Neo Technology is growing rapidly (but responsibly), backed by over $24M in venture capital, placing it among the strongest-backed NOSQL companies, and on a number of “Top Companies to Watch” lists, including most recently by Information Week and The Bloor Group.

Neo4j, the World’s Leading Graph Database

Let’s get back to product. 2012 will go down as a year where we invested a large portion of our energies making an already solid and reliable product even more reliable, with a 1.6 release in January, 1.7 in April, and 1.8 in October. While many of the improvements made in these releases are not necessarily visible to a developer programming against Neo4j, the result is a much stronger and more reliable database. This strong historical focus on manageability, scalability, security, robustness, and performance is the reason that so many are now relying on Neo4j. Making a trustworthy database takes effort, and we spend more time on this than anything else.

The Cypher query language also made great strides in 2012. Numerous advancements were made in performance and capability, including numerous new constructs, such as (with 1.8) the ability to create, modify, and delete nodes and relationships.

In my next blog post, I will discuss some of the truly exciting projects that we have planned for 2013. Some of these are going to kick off as soon as we wrap up the 1.9 release. We also have work that’s been happening in the background during 2012, which will come to fruition this year. More on that, and our other plans, coming up soon!