Definition

NoSQL DBMS (Not only SQL database management system)

Contributor(s): Craig S. Mullins

A NoSQL DBMS (Not only SQL database management system) is system software designed to create and manage NoSQL databases. The DBMS provides users and programmers with a systematic way to create, retrieve, update and manage data.

The world in which relational database management systems (RDBMSes) are the norm is fast disappearing. Although relational database systems remain important, multiple new types of database systems -- of which the fastest growing is NoSQL --  are being designed and implemented to meet new types of business needs. Understanding the types of NoSQL DBMSes that are available, as well as how and when they can be beneficial, is an important requirement for modern application development, especially mobile application development.

NoSQL DBMSes are designed to manage the scalability and performance issues that relational database management systems (RDBMSes) were not originally intended to deal with. Due diligence is required when examining the capabilities of each type of NoSQL database and DBMS because each offers different pros and cons. For example, although one NoSQL DBMS may not a viable candidate for financial transactions, the same DBMS may be an ideal solution for complex matrices of inter-related items on social networking sites or location aware systems used in delivery routing and dispatching.

NoSQL DBMSes can be key/value stores such as Redis, document databases such as MongoDB, column-oriented databases such as Cassandra, and graph databases such as Neo4j. Because there are significant differences between each of the four types, it’s important to understand that there is no one, single way that a NoSQL DBMS works.  Generally speaking, however, instead of supporting ACID to maintain data concurrency, most NoSQL DBMSes support eventual consistency, which can be difficult for developers to work with. Also, given that SQL may or may not be supported, technically-adept programmers are generally required to access data.

Today, many applications supporting mobile computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) rely on NoSQL databases to store and manage their underlying data. Most NoSQL DBMSes are open source and support flexible schemas in which the data can differ from instance to instance. Perhaps the greatest strength of a NoSQL DBMS, however, is the ability to support a distributed, horizontally-scalable, fault-tolerant infrastructure that meets the needs of big data and big data analytics.

This was last updated in February 2015

Next Steps

Different types of DBMSes require different levels of system resources, so it's important to understand the types and categories of DBMSes. Expert Craig S. Mullins evaluates different types of DBMSes to help you with your purchasing decisions.

Learn how a NoSQL DBMS compares with a relational DBMS

How does a graph DBMS support ACID?

How do distributed graph databases relate to NoSQL?

Read these key criteria to find out if NoSQL DBMS is right for your organization.

Continue Reading About NoSQL DBMS (Not only SQL database management system)

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