NoSQL is apparently NOT going to deliver World Peace

Peter Wayner at InfoWorld has articulated “Seven Hard Truths” about NoSQL technologies. Among them:

  • It’s nice to have JOINs; NoSQL has none.
  • It’s nice to have transactions
  • After 30 years of development, it seems that SQL Databases have some solid features, like the query analyzer.
  • NoSQL is like the Wild West; SQL is civilization
  • Gee, there sure are a lot of tools oriented toward SQL Databases.

Intereesting synthesis, but nothing really novel here. Michael Stonebraker articulated these things in 2009, and lots of people who’ve built information-driven companies in the past 6 or 7 years on traditional SQL datastores had the same insight, even if they didn’t bother to articulare it this way.

SQL Databases work. There are lots of tools, people know how to use and optimize them. The metaphor is well understood, the products are mature, the best practices are widely disseminated throughout the industry. None of these are true with the big NoSQL technologies.

There is value in NoSQL. Some very successful companies have considered SQL stores and dismissed them as inappropriate or inadequate to their tasks. Facebook, Google and Twitter have famously used NoSQL to accomplish things that would not be possible with technology that has evolved to serve the needs of traditional transaction-oriented enterprises.

Ironically, the shiny object that is NoSQL has now captured the attention of IT people in traditional enterprises, the very audience that the designers of NoSQL technologies ignored when producing their solutions. Does this make sense?

Yes, there’s a place for NoSQL. No, it will not take over the world, or replace the majority of enterprise data storage needs, anytime soon.  There are opportunities to take advantage of new technologies, but unless you are the next Twitter (and let’s face it, you’re not…) you probably do not need to emulate the Twitter data architecture. What you should do is combine your existing SQL data strategy with small doses of NoSQL, deployed tactically where it makes sense.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.