SQL is still more popular than NoSQL
April 20, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): NoSQL, SQL
Since the dawn of the NoSQL revolution just three years ago, the entire point of rewriting a database from scratch has been to get around the traditional limitations of the relational database. Yet while these new database alternatives call themselves “NoSQLs,” it turns out that the one thing almost all NoSQLs and relational databases have in common is, in fact, SQL.
SQL is still the most popular method of accessing data, no matter the platform in which the data is stored. The TIOBE Programming Community Index for April 2012 showed that Microsoft’s and Oracle's SQL extensions (Transact-SQL and PL/SQL, respectively) alone place the query language at No. 11 worldwide, right behind Ruby.
And even when NoSQLs don't use SQL directly, they emulate it closely. Apache Hadoop's Hive is a SQL-like query language. And when it comes to stacks, NoSQL now stands for “Not Only SQL.”
Eric Farrar, product manager at Sybase, said, “As databases are entering the cloud world, there is a lot of interest in NoSQL options. This has been getting at what has been perceived as limitations of SQL databases. If you take a look at the majority of NoSQL solutions out there, they tend to be focused around a few key areas in which, historically, databases have not been good at doing. One of those would be heavily unstructured data. The other is handling vast amounts of data, and dealing with the big-data problem.
“How does SQL fit into this world? I find they certainly have a fit for more structured data, and also around data that requires much more referential integrity. Specifically, we're addressing an area where relational still is the right solution, but adding cloud benefits.”
Brian Aker, a fellow at HP and former director of architecture at MySQL AB, said that NoSQL databases aren't mature enough to stand alone on the front lines. “Everybody's talking about NoSQL, and everybody's starting a new database company, and everyone thinks they'll be the next billion-dollar company,” he said. “But the next billion-dollar company is Instagram, not the database companies. It's a 10-year development cycle to build a product.
“For MySQL, coding started in 1995 or 1996. It took 10 years to get to 5.0. Now MySQL has a business future of 20, 30 or 40 years ahead of it. No matter what happens with big data and NoSQL, MySQL has a fantastic life ahead of it. You can build new optimizers and storage engines and APIs.”
That being said, NoSQL is still making inroads into enterprises. Dwight Merriman, CEO of 10gen (the company behind MongoDB), said that NoSQL has become just another tool in the enterprise toolbox.
“One thing we're seeing,” he said, “is a lot of companies are picking one tool as a standard tool that is available for all departments: one NoSQL tool. They're saying, ‘I'm giving you a relational database, some business intelligence database tool, and now a NoSQL, and those are the three you have to work with on the database tier.’ ”