Facebook readies its new graph database, bringing more light to Neo Technology’s Neo4j and others

It’s too early to tell whether Facebook’s heralded new Graph Search interface signals a turning point for Web applications, but its official release this month represents a coming-out party of sorts for the idea of graphed data. Though still on the edges of mainstream development, graph data models and related databases have gained some attention as yet another form of NoSQL data architecture, and the Facebook application could give graph database technology still more visibility. “Graphs have been around for some time, but the emergence of big data, the capturing of social relationships and the mining of connections has made the demand much more mainstream,” said Ben Engber, CEO at Thumbtack Technology, a software development services firm in Brooklyn, N.Y. Mapping social relationships is central to Facebook’s choice of the graph method. If successful, it could bring greater attention to vendors of graph database offerings, which include Neo Technology Inc., Objectivity Inc., Orient Technology and YarcData. Graph databases organize collections of nodes and relationships, using graph data models that are exposed through familiar Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) methods. While supporting online transaction processing that is somewhat similar to the types of jobs SQL relational databases can run, the graph-oriented approach to data modeling is very different than conventional relational modeling. Graph databases also show some similarities to object-oriented databases, and some object-oriented databases are used as stores for graph processors.