Neo4j and Big Data Management in Forbes Relational databases such as Oracle ORCL -0.21%, IBM IBM -0.12%’s DB2 and Microsoft MSFT -0.12%’s Access, form the backbone for data storage andmanagement in most organizations today. While relational databases provide good structure and accessibility for most data, they also have limitations which have given rise to a new class of databases that address specific needs for dealing with extremely large or complex data resources. These new databases don’t use the tables, fields and rows found in relational databases, and they don’t require establishing a schema (a highly-ordered database plan) to set them up. Called “NoSQL” (or “not-only SQL”) they are designed to overcome specific data management challenges such as providing rapid data access to power real-time applications, bringing order to data in non-traditional formats, or avoiding the costs and turnaround time required to develop a conventional database schema. The rise of NoSQL databases presents challenges for established database providers, and new options for data owners. Do you need a NoSQL database? Today, probably not. Tomorrow, that may change. How will you know? You don’t need to learn the ins and outs of all the new databases now available, but you should get familiar with key types and the situations best suited to each. Five major classes of NoSQL databases have emerged: column families (also known as “wide-column stores” or “columnar databases”), document, graph, key-value and XML (also known as “native XML”). Here are the basics on each type, with an eye to the kinds of data analysis that each fits best.
- Graph: These use a graph structure, essentially a diagram of the relationships within the data, in place of tables. They are good database engines for powering web applications that must provide information very quickly (think online shopping and social networking platforms). Look at these if your primary interest is a fast application and you can live with some approximations in analytics. Big names: Neo Technology’s Neo4J and Microsoft’s Horton