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What is NoSQL?

By   /  September 4, 2017  /  No Comments

NoSQLNoSQL describes a “category of databases built on non-relational technology.” Some believe it is more accurate to define NoSQL more about how the data is stored and less about how to query the database.

NoSQL Databases usually fall under four main categories:

  • Document: Stores a business subject in one structure called a document instead of breaking it up into multiple relational structures (i.e. different tables). For example, a single document called “Registration” would contain “Student”, “Course” and “Registration” information instead of putting each in three distinct relational structures.
  • Key-Value: Stores data in only two columns (‘key’ and ‘value’). Simple (dates, numbers, codes) and complex information (unformatted text, video, music, documents, photos) within the ‘key’ and ‘value’ column respectively.
  • Column-oriented: Looks as data as rows and columns, like a RDBMS. However, column-oriented structures can handle more ambiguous and complex data types, including unformatted text and imagery. In addition, column-oriented databases store each column in its own structure.
  • Graph: Represents data whose relations are well represented as a set of nodes with an undetermined number of connections between these nodes. Good candidates for a graph database include:
    • Social relationships (nodes are people)
    • Public transport links (node can be bus or train stations)
    • Roadmaps (nodes street intersections or highway intersections).
    • Anything requiring traversing a graph to find the shortest routes, nearest neighbors, etc.)

Other Definitions of NoSQL Include:

  • “Broad class of database management technologies that provide a mechanism for storage and retrieval of data that doesn’t follow tradition relational database methodology. ( Peter Aiken)
  • “Non-relational databases that use horizontal scaling, spreading out storage and work and eliminated the need for Structured Query Language or SQL.” (Keith Foote, DATAVERSITY®)
  • “A response to the dramatic growth of unstructured data within the enterprise.” (Matt Asay, TechRepublic)
  • “Databases that essentially give up the ability to do joins to be able to avoid huge monolith tables and scale.” They usually have a more flexible scheme. (Gregory Kesden, University of California, San Diego)
  • “A wide variety of different database technologies that were developed in response to the demands, with scale and agility challenges that face modern applications” (MongoDB)

Businesses Use NoSQL to:


Photo Credit: Profit_Image/Shutterstock.com

About the author

Michelle Knight enjoys putting her information specialist background to use by writing technical articles on enhancing Data Quality, lending to useful information. Michelle has written articles on W3C validator for SiteProNews, SEO competitive analysis for the SLA (Special Libraries Association), Search Engine alternatives to Google, for the Business Information Alert, and Introductions on the Semantic Web, HTML 5, and Agile, Seabourne INC LLC, through AboutUs.com. She has worked as a software tester, a researcher, and a librarian. She has over five years of experience, contracting as a quality assurance engineer at a variety of organizations including Intel, Cigna, and Umpqua Bank. During that time Michelle used HTML, XML, and SQL to verify software behavior through databases Michelle graduated, from Simmons College, with a Masters in Library and Information with an Outstanding Information Science Student Award from the ASIST (The American Society for Information Science and Technology) and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Smith College. Michelle has a talent for digging into data, a natural eye for detail, and an abounding curiosity about finding and using data effectively.

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