A Premature Return to SQL?
In online communities, the NoSQL topic (much like the ORM topic) is usually guaranteed to stir emotions. This war of words is frequently driven by evangelists on either side for either ideological or marketing reasons. Here’s an interesting post by Alex Popescu, a passionate NoSQL and polyglot persistence evangelist, claiming that the recent trend to return to SQL is premature:
This post triggered an equally interesting reaction by Markus Winand, author of SQL Performance Explained:
It’s really interesting how often people think that "trends” that introduce novel paradigms will make everything we had before obsolete. I believe that these are not trends, but experiments. I’ve blogged before that you should be wary when NoSQL vendors promise to put an end to DBAs. Very few “new” solutions or paradigms have ever completely replaced or substituted their predecessors. Or, in Isaac Newton’s words:
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
We’re not “returning to SQL”, nor is such a return “premature”. Yes, there are some innovative thinkers who are teaching an old elephant new tricks, and that’s good. It’s also good that such innovative thinkers get a piece of the pie and make money with their inventions.
It is also true that big database vendors are not very innovative. But they don’t have to be. Their asset is reliability, predictability, and stability. Oracle SQL will still support all its age-old legacy in 15 years, which makes it a safe choice for banks and insurance companies. If a NoSQL or NewSQL feature proves to be innovative and reliable, Oracle et al. will most certainly pick it up and integrate it into their RDBMS. Clever NoSQL vendors, as a result, are already prepared for their exits.
This happens outside the world of databases too:
- Scala is innovative and contributes to Java (Generics in Java 5, Lambdas in Java 8).
- Open Source developers (e.g. those of JAX-RS) are innovative and contribute to JEE.
- PostgreSQL is innovative and contributes to other SQL dialects and eventually the SQL standard.
- Instagram is innovative and Facebook bought them (“shit happens!”).
- jOOQ is innovative and contributes to JDBC and JPA (eventually, I hope).
SQL is a safe bet and is here to stay.