April 13th, 2010 — Data management
I was asked a few weeks ago whether I thought NoSQL was largely a US, (and specifically) West Coast phenomenon. While it might seem that way for some of those in the bubble that is the Bay Area (and to be fair that’s where I was at the time), the answer is a definite “no”.
As if to prove it, NoSQL EU is being held London next week with a great program of presentations from NoSQL vendors, projects and users.
April 20 features presentations on The Guardian’s use of NoSQL, as well as an overview from Alex Popescu of MyNoSQL, followed by presentations from Basho, 10gen, Rackspace and Neo Technology.
April 21 sees Amazon CTO Werner Vogels describing the birth of Dynamo, as well as presentations on the use of NoSQL databases from the BBC, Twitter, and Comcast. That is followed by presentations on Redis, Tokyo Cabinet (et al) and “the fate of the relational database”. Oh, and a panel debate moderated by some bloke called James Governor
Then on the 22nd there’s a day of workshops involving MongoDB, Redis, Riak and Neo4J.
It’s shaping up to be a great event and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re going to be there and want to say hi (between sessions!) let me know.
February 25th, 2010 — Data management
As a company, The 451 Group has built its reputation on taking a lead in covering disruptive technologies and vendors. Even so, with a movement as hyped as NoSQL databases, it sometimes pays to be cautious.
In my role covering data management technologies for The 451 Group’s Information Management practice I have been keeping an eye on the NoSQL database movement for some time, taking the time to understand the nuances of the various technologies involved and their potential enterprise applicability.
That watching brief has now spilled over into official coverage, following our recent assessment of 10gen. I also recently had the chance to meet up with Couchio’s VP of business development, Nitin Borwankar (see coverage initiation of Couchio). I’ve also caught up with Basho Technologies sooner rather than later. A report on that is now imminent.
There are a couple of reasons why I have formally began covering the NoSQL databases. The first is the maturing of the technologies, and the vendors behind them, to the point where they can be considered for enterprise-level adoption. The second is the demand we are getting from our clients to provide our view of the NoSQL space and its players.
This is coming both from the investment community and from existing vendors, either looking for potential partnerships or fearing potential competition. The number of queries we have been getting related to NoSQL and big data have encouraged articulation of my thoughts, so look-out for a two-part spotlight on the implications for the operational and analytical database markets in the coming weeks.
The biggest reason, however, is the recognition that the NoSQL movement is a user-led phenomena. There is an enormous amount of hype surrounding NoSQL but for the most part it is not coming from vendors like 10gen, Couchio and Basho (although they may not be actively discouraging it) but from technology users.
A quick look at the most prominent key-value and column-table NoSQL data stores highlights this. Many of these have been created by user organizations themselves in order fill a void and overcome the limitations of traditional relational databases – for example Google (BigTable), Yahoo (Hbase), Zvents (Hypertable), LinkedIn (Voldemort), Amazon (Dynamo), and Facebook (Cassandra).
It has become clear that traditional database technologies do need meet the scalability and performance requirements of dealing with big data workloads, particularly at a scale experienced by social networking services.
That does raise the question of how applicable these technologies will be to enterprises that do not share the architecture of the likes of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn – at least in the short-term. Although there are users – Cassandra users include Rackspace, Digg, Facebook, and Twitter, for example.
What there isn’t – for the likes of Cassandra and Voldemort, at least – is vendor-based support. That inevitably raises questions about the general applicability of the key-value/column table stores. As Dave Kellog notes, “unless you’ve got Google’s business model and talent pool, you probably shouldn’t copy their development tendencies”.
Given the levels of adoption it seems inevitable that vendors will emerge around some of these projects, not least since, as Dave puts it, “one day management will say: ‘Holy Cow folks, why in the world are we paying programmers to write and support software at this low a level?’”
In the meantime, it would appear that the document-oriented data stores (Couchio’s CouchDB, 10gen’s MongoDB, Basho’s Riak) are much more generally applicable, both technologically and from a business perspective. UPDATE – You can also add Neo Technology and its graph database technology to that list).
In our forthcoming two-part spotlight on this space I’ll articulate in more detail our view on the differentiation of the various NoSQL databases and other big data technologies and their potential enterprise applicability. The first part, on NoSQL and operational databases, is here.
February 18th, 2009 — Data management
Back in July last year we reported on the formation of a new open source cloud computing start-up called 10gen on our Cloud Cover and CAOS Theory blogs.
Seven months later and there have been a few changes at 10gen, such that this information management blog is arguably the most suitable venue for discussion of the implications of 10gen’s MongoDB, the cloud computing database which has now become its major focus.
A quick recap: 10gen launched as an open source platform-as-a-service play offering the MongoDB object database as well as an application server and file system. So far, so cloud stack.
However, the file system quickly became an interface layer to MongoDB while the company more recently decided that its application server runtime and MongoDB are better off apart and shifted its attention to the database, a standalone beta version of which was released last week.
As the two projects have diverged so will this post. To continue reading about the future of the Babble application server head for CAOS Theory, otherwise:
As this post from Geir Magnusson Jr, 10gen VP of Engineering & Co-Founder, at Codehaus describes, MongoDB is not your traditional database.
“As I argue when people give me the chance to speak about it, databases are changing – just look at what is available in the so-called “cloud” arena. It tends not to be a RDBMS if it’s scalable. The storage engine under AppEngine, or Amazon’s SimpleDB, or any of the Dynamo implementations, etc, all of which change your programming model to one that isn’t “tables and joins”. Or look at the excellent CouchDB, a JSON store. If the RDBMS isn’t being replaced outright (like it has to be in “the cloud”), it can to be augmented with other persistence technologies that are better suited for a portion of the data requirements of a system.”
This was one of the themes of my talk at our client event in Boston last year, and nothing has happened since then to change my mind. As Geir explains, the interesting thing about the new cloud databases (for want of a better term) is that they force users to think differently about what a database is for – and specifically to think beyond the realms of the relational.
We see similar forces at work in the data warehousing space driven by column-oriented architectures, but the end result is the same as users are increasingly thinking beyond what already know to consider the best database management tools for the job at hand.
As Geir adds of MongoDB: “It works fine as a database, but you can’t think relational. If you want to just replace MySQL with something else, but don’t want to rethink your data model, MongoDB isn’t for you.”