What are NoSQL Databases?

Hi friends, in this post, we will be discussing about Non-Relational Databases and more specifically, we will try to answer the question: What are NoSQL Databases?


Definition for NoSQL Databases

Non-Relational Databases which are also known as “NoSQL databases”, are database systems that do not use the tabular schema of rows and columns which is usually used in Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMSs).

One of the main characteristics of NoSQL Databases, is that they do not require any predefined schema, thus they help you process unstructured data more easily.

To this end, NoSQL Databases, use other data representations for storing data, such as:

  • Documents
  • Key-Value Pairs
  • Graphs
  • Time Series Data Stores
  • Columnar Data Stores
  • Object Data Stores


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Pros of using NoSQL Databases

As in every technology, using NoSQL Databases instead of SQL Databases (RDBMS) can have its pros and cons.

Some of the main benefits when using NoSQL Databases are:

  • Suitable for storing and accessing Big Data
    • Big Data: Huge volumes of both structured and unstructured data
  • Typically faster than RDBMSs when processing Big Data
  • They simplify the software creation process, since developers do not need to define the database schema prior to developing the application
  • Usually open-source


Cons of using of NoSQL Databases

Besides the pros of using NoSQL Databases, when compared to Relational Database Management Systems (SQL Databases), there are also certain cons, such as:

  • Not fully compatible with the Structured Query Language (SQL)
    • SQL is a well-established query language
  • Lack of standardization
    • i.e. query languages differ across different NoSQL database implementations
  • RDBMSs are considered more mature, since as a technology, they have been around for over than 40 years


Which one to select? NoSQL or SQL Databases?

So, at this point, it is natural for the following question to arise: Which Database system to use? NoSQL or SQL?

Well, we have discussed about some of the main pros and cons above. The answer to this question, is relatively straightforward, that is, “it depends“.

Choosing the most suitable Database system, depends on the type and volume of data that you need to organize and process.

For example, if you have large volumes of unstructured data, then using a NoSQL Database would make it easier for you to store this type of data and access it faster.

In a different scenario, where you might need to store and process well-structured data, then it might be better to use an SQL Database (RDBMS).

Last but not least, you could also chose to use a more “hybrid” approach, i.e. in the case where you need to store and process both structured and unstructured data.


Examples of NoSQL Databases

Some examples of NoSQL Databases are:

  • MongoDB®
  • Redis®
  • Cassandra®
  • Amazon® DynamoDB®
  • Apache® HBase®
  • Azure® Cosmos DB®


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