Can SQL and NoSQL databases live happily together?

TRP: What is NoSQL good for?

RJ: NoSQL is attractive to those working with big data, and is particularly suitable for use cases involving data that takes many different forms, or which may be incomplete. When rapid results are required in such a situation, NoSQL technologies can offer a useful option. Also, NoSQL can appeal to developers working to create systems of engagement, such as web-based services for consumers. This is particularly true in situations where the queries sent into a system can take many different forms, or the query form itself must necessarily be very simple.

TRP: What is SQL good for?

RJ: SQL-based databases will always appeal to those responsible for creating and maintaining systems of record. There are certain applications where SQL is almost always the preferred choice. Some of these might include mission-critical systems in defence, aerospace, and finance, where data is always complete and consistent, and the speed and accuracy of each transaction is paramount.

TRP: Can both database formats co-exist?

RJ: There's definitely a place for both NoSQL and SQL in the modern enterprise, and I don't think we'll see that change any time soon. In fact, the boundaries between the two are not as well defined as many would have you believe. Some of the most exciting work we've been doing at SkySQL has been to add functions to the MariaDB database that replicate much of the capability of NoSQL offerings, while still retaining the benefits of a MySQL-based technology.

TRP: What is the future of open source databases?

RJ: Open source databases have an illustrious history, and the technology would not be where it is today if it were not for the collaborative efforts of the enterprise R&D teams and creative individuals who have contributed to the evolution of MySQL, MariaDB and other technologies. As businesses' data handling requirements become ever more complex, we're seeing many situations where ease of interoperability with other databases is a central requirement.

The inherent flexibility of open source databases means that they are often well suited to this type of use-case, so I think we'll see a great deal of innovation in this area in years to come. We're only really scratching the surface of the contribution that data can make to business success, and I expect open source technology to make a telling contribution as the technology advances over the next few years.

Databases have become a core asset to businesses today and for these businesses to be able to participate and collaborate in product development, which is what open source is about, is crucial. By working together, introducing new functionality which will improve the performance existing open source databases like what we are doing at MariaDB, databases will be well-tested, more secure and easier to integrate with.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.