The Database Decision – a hard choice for startups

File:GraphDatabase PropertyGraph.png

Did you ever wonder how or why startups choose a very specific kind of database for implementing their solution? According to ‘the-software-behind-facebook‘ Facebook for example uses a multitude of different database technologies to fulfill their immense scalability requirements. After 30 years of relational database technology domination, at last some other very interesting database, persistance, caching and query approaches appeared on the market. Most of the time these approaches are distinguised into the categories RDBMS – also know as Polyglot Persistence and NOSQL, while NOSQL is the overall term for a really wide spectrum of approaches and technologies such as:

  1. Key-Value-stores
  2. BigTable-implementations
  3. Document-stores
  4. Graph Databases
For Key/Value systems like Voldemort or Tokyo Cabinet the smallest modeling unit is the key-value-pair. On the other side BigTable – clones it is tuples with variable numbers of attributes. In document databases like CouchDB and MongoDB the document is the smallest modeling unit of data. Graph Databases model the whole dataset as one big dense network structure, such as Neo4J.
Social applications such as Facebook and others often use graph databases according to the really bad query performance of recursive structures like for instance file trees and network structures like e.g. social graphs, on relational databases.
Another aspect to consider is whether a database offers convenient spacial query operations, in order to speed up the lookup of specific locations or areas. Many of the modern mobile apps use these spatial queries to locate places, things, events or friends. Foursquare is one of the most prominent examples for a location based social application.
A very good article by Peter Neubauer, the COO of Neo Technology, explains where the differences of Relational, NOSQL and GraphDBs are, which is definitely worth reading!

 File:Anchor Modeling Example.svg


Leave a Reply