Is SQL still relevant? Absolutely. While many database options are available today, relational database is still the best choice for your bread-and-butter transactional workloads. New SQL and NoSQL have their place, but a relational database is still the solid choice.
Brief History of SQL
SQL (Structured Query Language) was first developed in the 1970s at IBM. The language allowed IBM programs to manipulate and retrieve data in IBM’s original database, an early prototype of the relational database management system (RDBMS.)
Later in the 70s, Relational Software, Inc, now Oracle Corporation, developed its own SQL-based RDBMS. Since the 80s, SQL has been a standard for querying and managing relational databases.
SQL features include:
- Rely on relational tables
- Utilize defined data schema
- Reduce redundancy through normalization
- Support JOIN functionality
- Engineered for data integrity
- Traditionally scale up, not out
- Near universal in adoption
NewSQL vs NoSQL vs SQL?
Standard SQL has not been the only game in town for many years. A number of options have emerged, including:
NewSQL/In-memory: First coined in 2011 by the 451 Group, NewSQL refers to a newly emergent category that allows for the scalability of NoSQL and ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) strong transactional and consistency of a traditional RDBMS. Designed to operate in a distributed cluster of shared-nothing nodes, NewSQL promises distributed concurrency control, flow control, and distributed query processing. Storing transactions in-memory allows for faster response times but may result in latency, compromising data integrity. NewSQL can not be incorporated into an existing OLTP RDBMSs and are best utilized for new projects that require fast decisioning, such as gaming applications.
NoSQL: These non-relational, distributed, open-source and horizontally scalable databases have been around since the early 1960s but gained popularity in the early 2000s. The rise in NoSQL corresponded with the rise of Big Data, and massively scalable, always-on applications that respond to agile development methods. What NoSQL databases gain in speed, flexibility, availability and partition tolerance, they lack in data consistency and most NoSQL stores can not handle ACID transactions. While most NoSQL solutions did not initially support SQL as a query language, many now offer that option. Popular examples include MongoDB, Cassandra, and HBase.
SQL: SQL is very portable, running on mainframes, PC, laptops, servers, tablets and even smartphones. In addition to major vendors like Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP, there are several open source version of SQL databases available such as MySQL, MariaDB, and Postgres. Writing SQL queries is easy to learn, and SQL databases use an established standard adopted by ANSI & ISO.
Why the Relational Database Matters
SQL is the language of choice for relational databases. Some data is inherently better suited to a relational database which can host several databases on one server. Other advantages include:
- Ease of Use: The use of tables to store data in columns and rows makes it easy to access and manage data.
- Data Security. With an RDBMS you can hide sensitive tables and give them their authorization codes, providing a layer of protection for your data
- SQL Standard: SQL is a standardized language well understood by many applications, and many of the alternative database options provide SQL interfaces.
- Data Integrity: the structure of the relational database preserves the integrity of the data and makes it easier to meet compliance regulations.
- Performance: An RDBMS uses indexes to sort data and speed up performance, and supports both desktop and web applications.
- Development and Support: The large players — Oracle, Microsoft, SAP — have a vested interest in continuing to develop and evolve their database offering to meet modern standards.
- RDBMS Standards: Relational databases adhere to ACID properties to ensure the reliability of transactions.
There is a use case for every application and applying the right technology is key to a seamless, interoperable experience. The experts at Ntriety understand databases and how to integrate SQL, NoSQL, NewSQL to meet business requirements. Ntirety can help you optimize your existing applications to improve performance, increase security, and integrate your data with your cloud strategy. Contact us.