Is the Relational Database Doomed?

I read an interesting article in ReadWriteWeb.com which i follow daily. It is a good idea to take a look at the article. I paste first part of the article here.

Recently, a lot of new non-relational databases have cropped up both inside and outside the cloud. One key message this sends is, “if you want vast, on-demand scalability, you need a non-relational database”.

If that is true, then is this a sign that the once mighty relational database finally has a chink in its armor? Is this a sign that relational databases have had their day and will decline over time? In this post, we’ll look at the current trend of moving away from relational databases in certain situations and what this means for the future of the relational database.

Relational databases have been around for over 30 years. During this time, several so-called revolutions flared up briefly, all of which were supposed to spell the end of the relational database. All of those revolutions fizzled out, of course, and none even made a dent in the dominance of relational databases.

The Problem with Relational Databases

Even though RDBMS have provided database users with the best mix of simplicity, robustness, flexibility, performance, scalability, and compatibility, their performance in each of these areas is not necessarily better than that of an alternate solution pursuing one of these benefits in isolation. This has not been much of a problem so far because the universal dominance of RDBMS has outweighed the need to push any of these boundaries. Nonetheless, if you really had a need that couldn’t be answered by a generic relational database, alternatives have always been around to fill those niches.

Today, we are in a slightly different situation. For an increasing number of applications, one of these benefits is becoming more and more critical; and while still considered a niche, it is rapidly becoming mainstream, so much so that for an increasing number of database users this requirement is beginning to eclipse others in importance. That benefit is scalability. As more and more applications are launched in environments that have massive workloads, such as web services, their scalability requirements can, first of all, change very quickly and, secondly, grow very large. The first scenario can be difficult to manage if you have a relational database sitting on a single in-house server. For example, if your load triples overnight, how quickly can you upgrade your hardware? The second scenario can be too difficult to manage with a relational database in general.

Relational databases scale well, but usually only when that scaling happens on a single server node. When the capacity of that single node is reached, you need to scale out and distribute that load across multiple server nodes. This is when the complexity of relational databases starts to rub against their potential to scale. Try scaling to hundreds or thousands of nodes, rather than a few, and the complexities become overwhelming, and the characteristics that make RDBMS so appealing drastically reduce their viability as platforms for large distributed systems.

For cloud services to be viable, vendors have had to address this limitation, because a cloud platform without a scalable data store is not much of a platform at all. So, to provide customers with a scalable place to store application data, vendors had only one real option. They had to implement a new type of database system that focuses on scalability, at the expense of the other benefits that come with relational databases.

To read the full article please visit ReadWriteWeb.com

Resource: ReadWriteWeb.com

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