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April 2014, Volume 2, Number 2

NoSQL databases dent relational software's data processing dominance

In 1922, automaker Henry Ford famously wrote that his customers could have a car painted any color they wanted -- as long as it was black. Until recently, IT managers, application developers and business executives faced similarly limited choices in selecting database technologies. Relational databases built on top of the SQL programming language were the dominant engines powering corporate IT and business systems, with no real challengers in sight. But things have changed. Starting in the mid-2000s, SQL's absolute supremacy was undone by the likes of Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Amazon.com and eBay. At those Internet giants and other companies, the need to run colossally scalable Web applications with varied and fast-changing data requirements prompted efforts to find alternatives to mainstream relational databases. That ushered in first a stream, and over the past few years a torrent, of new technologies that eschewed rigid SQL development principles in favor of more flexible and scalable data designs. Those databases are spread ...

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