NoSQL should be in your business, and MongoDB could lead the way

Although NoSQL may not be well understood by IT, one vendor appears to be cracking into the enterprise

NoSQL is still not well understood, as a term or a database market category, by IT decision makers. However, one NoSQL vendor -- 10gen, creators of the open source MongoDB -- appears to be growing into enterprise accounts and distancing itself from competitors. If you're considering, or curious about, NoSQL databases, I recommend you spend some time looking at MongoDB.

Understanding "not only SQL," aka NoSQL

Although the term "NoSQL" suggests a product category that is anti-SQL or anti-relational databases, the term has evolved to mean "not only SQL."

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According to Nosql-database.org, there are more than 122 NoSQL database products to date. These products differ from traditional relational databases in that they don't rely on a relational model, are often schema-free, and support eventually consistent transactions (rather than guaranteed consistent, as in the universally used ACID approach).

Max Schireson, president of 10Gen, asserts that relational databases are here to stay and have an important role to play in tomorrow's enterprise. He sees enterprises using both NoSQL and relational databases, albeit for different applications. (If this positioning sounds familiar, recall that MySQL tried to paint a picture of cohabitation with enterprise database vendors.)

If an application is processing sales orders and needs absolute guaranteed transactions, a relational database supporting ACID transactions is a must. If an application is processing millions of events, such as clickstreams, to better optimize an online sales catalog -- and losing a few of those events is less critical than being able to scale the application and data across commodity servers -- then a NoSQL database could be a perfect fit.

MongoDB distances itself from NoSQL alternatives

Although NoSQL databases like Cassandra (originally developed and used by Facebook) or CouchDB get a lot of media attention, MongoDB appears to be the product to catch in this hot market. As evidence, worldwide Google searches for various NoSQL product names shows the marked increase in MongoDB and Mongo searches since January 2011. Google searches for MongoDB and Mongo exceeded searches for CouchDB, Couchbase, Membase, Cassandra, and HBase combined. According to Indeed.com, open positions seeking MongoDB or Mongo skills have outpaced other leading NoSQL products. MongoDB and Mongo now represent the most sought-after NoSQL skills among companies hiring on Indeed.com. Finally, recently announced PaaS offerings from Red Hat and VMware featured MongoDB at the data services layer of their respective offerings.

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Schireson shared some stats on 10Gen's commercial business growth into the enterprise with MongoDB: Six months ago, the majority of 10Gen customers were startups; today the majority are traditional enterprise customers. In fact, 10Gen counts five Fortune 100 companies among its 200-plus paying customers. With more than 100,000 downloads per month and developer attendance to MongoDB conferences increasing 400 percent to nearly 2,000 across San Francisco, New York, and Beijing, MongoDB traction continues to increase.

However, many enterprises are waiting for their peers to go first into the world of NoSQL. I don't think they need to wait any longer -- and some aren't waiting. Although companies needing to manage terabytes of data across commodity servers, such as Facebook, Foursquare, and Shutterfly, have been early adopters of NoSQL databases, traditional enterprises such as Disney and Intuit are also joining the NoSQL customer list.

And Craigslist has adopted MongoDB to handle its multi-billion-document deployment, as Jeremy Zawodny, author of the popular "High Performance MySQL" book, explained at a recent conference. When Zawodny, a MySQL performance guru, gets behind MongoDB, it's time for enterprises interested in NoSQL to consider MongoDB.

Follow me on Twitter at SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "NoSQL should be in your business, and MongoDB could lead the way," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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