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From 2010: NoSQL (Old Wine, New Bottle)

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From 2010: NoSQL (Old Wine, New Bottle)

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Got an email with links about NoSQL. Links like " Going NoSQL with MongoDB". This -- like many such articles -- includes the phrase "the NoSQL movement" as if there's something new going on. Thank goodness Ted Neward includes quotes around "new". This isn't new. And doubly good, Neward doesn't use words like "excitement".


Some folks like to link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NoSQL. This is misleading, of course, since avoiding SQL isn't new or even that interesting. If you're going to treat avoiding SQL specially, then you should have a NoProceduralProgramming, NoFunctionalProgramming, NoAssembler, NoShellScript and NoHTML movements, also.


Why stop there? Why not have a NoDumbAssArchitecture movement, too?


If you want to see dumb, breathless stuff, however, use Google and search for "nosql excitement". You'd think that the file system was new technology. In particular, posts like " NOSQL Movement - Excited with the coexistence of Divergent Thoughts" seem silly.


Unless -- I guess -- you've been solving all data management problems with a relational database. I guess when you discover that you don't have to use the hammer, then it's exciting to see that everything isn't simply a nail, either.


If avoiding the hegemony of SQL seems important, or even interesting, perhaps you've been living in a cave. Seriously. The file system has always been there and has always worked nicely for lots of problems. My 2002-era Ralph Kimball Data Warehouse Toolkit books are very clear that large, high-volume data warehouses are mostly flat files. Data marts are SQL databases suitable for ad-hoc SQL queries. But the RDBMS isn't always the best place for large volumes of data.


Bottom Line

NoSQL isn't new or even very interesting.


Consequences

If you're an architect, but you're not looking at alternatives to the RDBMS -- and running benchmarks to compare the choices -- you're not really doing architectural work. You're probably a glorified programmer and should consider working in a place that doesn't stifle you by imposing a "one world -- one architecture" viewpoint.


If you're a manager and think that "everything in SQL" is a risk-reducer, you need to actually talk to your people. If you think that your people's skills are limited to SQL, you're doing your team (and your customers) a disservice. Consider a skill upgrade of your own. Your team can learn other non-RDBMS technologies. Perhaps you should stop stifling them.


If you're a DBA and you know -- for a fact -- that the relational database is perfect and complete, you should perhaps pause a moment and consider things the relational databases don't do well. Graph-theory problems and hierarchies require fairly complex workarounds. Even a many-to-many relationship requires this extra association table. Perhaps those things are the signs of force-fitting data into the RDBMS model.

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