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NoSQL Databases and Large Web Applications By @MapR | @CloudExpo [#BigData]

What You Need to Know

NoSQL Databases to Support Large Web Applications

NoSQL databases are powerful tools for supporting big data applications, maximizing scalability, performance, and availability. Their unique features and easy implementation render them well-equipped to meet a variety of enterprise needs in a range of use cases.

NoSQL is a database technology that was developed to address critical issues today such as a huge increase in data volume, a high frequency of data access, and support for varying data formats. Relational database management systems (RDBMS), on the other hand, were not designed to face these challenges on a huge scale - nor were they built to take advantage of inexpensive commodity storage and processing power. NoSQL databases are increasingly viewed as the most suitable option for modern, high-demand applications.

NoSQL originated as an endeavor to build a database for modern applications that can scale rapidly. Popularized in 2009, NoSQL has seen dramatic growth in just a handful of years. All NoSQL databases were designed to increase the scaling, performance, and availability of large-scale applications, especially web applications. Pursuant to this goal, many RDBMS features have been left out, and instead, certain features were added to better support large data sets. One important component of NoSQL databases is the "sharding" of data. This feature helps the scale-out architecture of NoSQL technology to support a huge number of records - a problem area for the traditional relational model. By using thousands of servers in a clustered environment, NoSQL-based applications can support millions of users on terabytes of data with rapid response time.

NoSQL databases come in several forms:

  • Key-value store: This is the simplest NoSQL database. It stores each item with a lookup attribute (known as a "key") and associated value.
  • Wide-column stores: Also known as "column family stores," this type of NoSQL database can be described as a multi-dimensional sorted map which is persistent, distributed, and sparse. More simply, they have a data model that most closely resembles tables in an RDBMS.
  • Document database: This type of database consists of a key with an associated complex data structure. This complex data structure is known as a "document," which can itself hold key-value pairs, nested documents, or even key-array pairs.
  • Graph database: This is typically used to store data represented in the form of a graph, such as social connections.

So what are some suitable use cases for NoSQL? Here are a few situations that call for the powerful features of NoSQL databases:

  • Rapidly growing data sets: If your data continues to grow rapidly like in an Internet of Things environment, then you want a horizontal scaling architecture so you can simply add more servers to accommodate that growth. Horizontal scaling in a distributed environment is always a challenge for traditional database management systems.
  • Scalable BI and analytical applications: The volume and velocity of data is growing rapidly in many enterprises, and RDBMSs are under-equipped to handle analytical applications treating large volumes of data. A lot of time is wasted in loading, unloading, and querying warehouses in support of analytics. By moving some analytics tasks to a NoSQL database, you can free up your high end warehouses for time-sensitive, business-critical analytics.
  • Real-time analytics applications: Real-time analytics applications - including stock market analysis, fraud detection, and risk analysis - are often critical to manage. Data is typically collected from different sources and then analyzed in real time. NoSQL databases, especially when used with Apache Hadoop, are well-suited to support such operations.
  • Simple lookup-based database applications: Many business applications require only basic data storage and retrieval - so they do not want to take on the overhead or size of traditional RDBMSs. NoSQL databases avoid the unnecessary overhead in these simple applications.

For a simple yet highly capable tool to support large-scale web applications, NoSQL databases are your best bet. With their powerful capabilities, they can meet the needs of a variety of applications. MapR-DB, the wide-column NoSQL database that leverages the popular Apache HBase API, is a technology that can handle many different use cases while providing enterprise-grade reliability, extreme scalability, and high performance.

More Stories By Dale Kim

Dale is Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His technical and managerial experience includes work with relational databases, as well as non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the UC Berkeley.

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