Guide to NoSQL databases: How they can help users meet big data needs
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NoSQL database implementations have become increasingly plentiful among fast-moving Web and cloud companies looking to buck the confines of relational software. But NoSQL vendors are facing heightened competition of their own from another group of upstarts: Developers of NewSQL databases that combine SQL and NoSQL traits.
DropShip Commerce, a two-year-old company that operates a logistics and business-to-business trading platform for retailers, suppliers and distributors, took a stab at using NoSQL software to help run its operations. It switched, though, to NuoDB Inc.'s namesake NewSQL database in an effort to meet challenges that cropped as its business started to grow.
DropShip's journey provides a snapshot of recent database evolution: The American Fork, Utah, company initially migrated from relational MySQL to the MongoDB NoSQL database before moving again last year to NuoDB to power virtual product catalog delivery, inventory management and order tracking for its clients.
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The MongoDB system ran into limitations in scaling and its ability to handle the reporting requirements of customers, said Scott Lemon, DropShip's chief technology officer. The company's processing platform has to be flexible because it's used by a variety of suppliers and retailers with data requirements that change frequently. But Lemon said the MongoDB deployment consisted of separate implementations built around individual customer partnerships -- creating, in effect, islands of NoSQL data.
Managing all of the individual data models was a major source of pain for Lemon's team. "The data models were crippling," he said. "We wanted to put this all into a single large database that we were able to query."
NuoDB is based on a three-tier, distributed database architecture and built for use in the cloud, like most NoSQL technologies; its features include multi-tenancy support that allows users to run multiple databases off of a single installation. But it sports a transaction engine that executes SQL code, said NuoDB CEO Barry Morris.
Lemon gave the NewSQL database good marks for its distributed computing chops. He said elastic scalability is vital to his applications because e-commerce interchanges are subject to massive seasonal -- and sometimes daily -- swings in traffic. Blaine Nielsen, DropShip's president, added that the company can now scale its databases "in lockstep as the business scales."
Separately, in response to questions on MongoDB scaling, a representative for MongoDB Inc. said that there are "plenty of people running highly scalable MongoDB systems," while also acknowledging that there's still "room for improvement in the experience of developing" such systems.