Neo Technology execs: How Neo4j beat Oracle Database

In an interview, the company's CEO and senior director of products discuss the mobile possibilities of their offering and defend Java's security

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InfoWorld: With Neo4j, can you query it over the Internet?

Eifrem: It has a RESTful API where you can query over the Web. Or you can run it locally. It runs in the cloud on Heroku.

InfoWorld: Neo4j is written in Java, correct?

Eifrem: It's written in Java, that's the 4j.

InfoWorld: Given recent problems with Java security, are you concerned about the security ramifications of Java?

Eifrem: The recent issue was serious. It was real. It was a browser problem. It was a real issue, but generally speaking, no, I'm not concerned because we're written in Java. Java is one of the strongest security platforms out there, actually. You should always take security very seriously, especially if you're focused on the enterprise like we are and we certainly do. But I don't think Java is any less secure than other languages. On the contrary, I think it's more secure than a lot of other languages.

InfoWorld: What makes it more secure?

Eifrem: Because it's fundamentally written with the sandboxing model, with a JVM, which has a very sophisticated security model. Sometimes you have bugs in it but historically if you look at the kind of proliferation that the Java platform has versus the amount of security issues that have been found, it's actually very, very low.

InfoWorld: What's the mobile story for graph databases in Neo4j?

Rathle: We actually do have some customers who are running mobile apps that use Neo4j on the background. There is, for example, a company in Germany that just started a project where they're building iPad apps that are used by salespeople who are working in the medical field and working with the hospital and using Neo4j on the back end to navigate the hierarchy between doctors and hospitals and insurance companies and providers. We also have another customer who has actually ported Neo4j to Android.That is not yet open source, but we're working on that.

InfoWorld: What can you do with Neo4j on Android?

Rathle: I can't share a lot about their use case, but it's a device that's taking measurements of things that are highly related and what they care about is understanding the relationships.

InfoWorld: So mobile is an opportunity for you guys?

Rathle: It's an opportunity, yes. And it's something that I think we'll start to see more of in the future. Most uses of Neo4j to date have been, or most enterprise uses, have been in these areas that Emil has shown, inside the enterprise, either in customer-facing websites or internally where there are serious performance challenges with hierarchal data, like in the Cisco case.

InfoWorld: What is the graph megatrend?

Eifrem: Facebook may be a very visible and very recent example of the use of graphs and very spectacular. [Users are] going to see graph search at the top bar of the Internet because Facebook is increasingly becoming the Internet for a lot of people. But they're not the first to use graphs. Here are some other examples. One is, of course, Google, who started out by taking the Web graph and making that searchable and then actually announced what they call the Knowledge Graph, which they did the same week as Facebook IPO'd. Twitter has the Interest Graph. In fact, I just saw an interview with Marissa Mayer where she said that her vision for Yahoo is to model the Interest Graph. Not just people knowing other people. But model -- what are you interested in? There's a bunch of companies that are trying to leverage these connected data structures.

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