Monday, 19 December 2016

How and Why To Bridge between SQL and NoSQL

SQL have for long now been the synonym of "database" for us. For any sort of data management, SQL had been our instinctive choice. However, the past decade saw the emergence of NoSQL which gave rise to a fierce competition of preferences.
What haunts the mind of every aspiring database developer today is the question of choice: To SQL or NoSQL. We want to keep in touch with the latest trends in the technology, but don't want the established technologies to slip away either. However, the most basic point that most people seem to miss is this: SQL and NoSQL are not competitors, and most certainly not antonyms of each other.

SQL or Structured Query Language is the most standard concept of database management systems today. SQL considers data to be stored in the form of tables called Relations, that consist of tuples and attributes. While this concept had been a hugely successful improvement over the data-storage systems present at that time, like flat files, things have changed today.

NoSQL came as a breath of fresh air in an industry that was rapidly changing. The world is going digital, and the digital world is messy. We can never predict the volume, variety or velocity of incoming data. The data, apart from being unpredictable, is also unstructured. Since relational databases are not inherently adept to handle them, something else was required. At the same time, distributed computing is all the rage today, because most businesses are moving towards the cloud. The expansion of relational databases cannot keep up with the pace; thus, NoSQL entered into the scene.

Why to migrate from SQL to NoSQL

Strictly speaking, NoSQL aims to do what SQL cannot. It is not based on relations and it may sometimes even fail to follow the ACID properties! But unlike what you have been taught, ACID properties, though really useful, are not the ultimate necessity. The ultimate necessity is fault tolerance, and NoSQL manages to achieve that anyway.

NoSQL cannot be defined in a single line, as there is no single definition. While all SQL-based databases follow strict guidelines that adhere to SQL-standards, NoSQL gives the databases a free rein. With so many lacks of standards, one might wonder: Are the reasons enough to migrate to NoSQL?

Yes, because we have only touched the crux of the importance of NoSQL in modern world. The two biggest reasons why NoSQL trumps over SQL are agility and scalability.

With the rapid changes that occur daily in the industry, being agile is the only way to survive. However, Relational databases couldn't ever hope to achieve that, with their rigid schemas and complex development. The aforementioned rapid changes are also met by growing size, which require rapid scalability. However, scalability was one aspect that was blatantly ignored in SQL (as it was made in a time when web and internet were non-existent). To cope up with these issues, NoSQL seems like our best bet.

Why to Bridge SQL and NoSQL

"Now that we know how NoSQL differs from SQL, the question arises: Why to bridge them? Why not adopt NoSQL altogether?   "

Simply, because NoSQL doesn't have the same penetration as SQL. A huge number of companies have their entire existing architecture based on relational databases, which would be quite a headache to change. But that doesn't mean that one has to remain stuck with SQL forever. The best option in such scenarios is to bridge the existing SQL framework with a NoSQL database. The benefit? To put it simple, it will bring out "the best of both worlds".

As far the "bridging" goes, there is no one, simple way to do that. The easiest way would be to use third-party drivers like easysoft, which provides ODBC-like bridging capabilities. However, as it comes from a third-party vendor, it might have its own security and licensing issues.

An alternative approach would be to develop languages that could extend SQL functionality to NoSQL databases. One example would be the N1QL, introduced by Couchbase Server, which extends SQL to JSON.

The ways to bridge the gap between these two technologies may differ and evolve; but we can all agree that co-existence of the two is best for the progress of industry.

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Read more on NO SQL- NOT ONLY SQL here - WhatisNoSQL

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