Relational database management system guide: RDBMS still on top

Last updated:June 2014

Editor's note

Relational databases have enjoyed a long run as the database mainstay across a wide variety of businesses, and for good reasons. They're relatively easy to create and use, and they offer reliable performance in both transaction processing and business intelligence applications, with support for transaction and data integrity. However, relational databases haven't necessarily adapted well to changes in the types and quantities of data now being generated, such as the unstructured data that is prevalent in big data applications. In addition, expanding traditional databases to accommodate rapid growth is costly.

As a result, NoSQL database technologies are challenging the monopoly of the relational database management system. There are a number of NoSQL database options, all developed to fulfill particular purposes that RDBMSs aren't designed to handle. Many organizations are finding new freedom in having so many choices when it comes to database architectures. Yet, despite their modern designs and efficiency in managing large data sets, NoSQL databases aren't the right fit for all projects -- and they aren't likely to oust relational software from the top database perch any time soon.

Depending on your business goals, traditional databases, NoSQL databases or a hybrid of the two may be best to deliver the most value. The articles and videos in this guide examine these technologies from different perspectives and explore the case for the ongoing relevance of relational databases.

1NoSQL software chips away at RDBMS dominance

While myriad NoSQL database options have emerged to help businesses address big data requirements and scalability concerns, they aren't full replacements for traditional databases. Some companies are choosing NoSQL systems to support big data applications in completely non-relational environments, but others are combining them with a relational database management system or data warehouse -- an approach that illustrates the frequent use of NoSQL to mean "not only SQL." The articles in this section examine the varied roles of NoSQL technologies and how they relate to mainstream relational databases.

2Quiz yourself on RDBMS and NoSQL

Take this brief quiz to test your knowledge of relational databases and NoSQL technologies.