Choosing SQL vs. NoSQL Databases for Your Application Backend

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The database’s realm is expanding rapidly, and the erstwhile databases are now getting replaced by new database structures. Primarily, two database types are prevailing currently as SQL database and NoSQL database. Let us first explore these two and then dig deeper into each to identify which one best suits your app.

SQL database

SQL database is also known as a structured database or relational database. You can understand them with the example of a phone book where all the contact numbers and addresses are written in a structured manner. An SQL database will maintain structured data fields in columns and rows in a data table. SQL or structured querying language is a language for programming used to build rational, relational databases. Some of the top SQL databases available now are MySQL, Postgres SQL, Oracle, IBM DM2, Sybase, etc. This helps execute SQL queries for writing and retrieving data, editing data, and backup and recovery of data when needed. Editing the data tables include updating, creating, and deleting new data records.

NoSQL database

NoSQL database is a new-age version of databases, which is also called as non-relational databases. These are document-oriented and store data as in folders. NoSQL databases can hold every form of data in structured or unstructured formats, ranging from a phone number of the contact to their social media profile likes, online preferences, browsing history to various minute details. Unlike SQL, non-relational databases do not store data in a table model, but all data is stored in a documented file. Data can be found easily in it, but it may not be categorized into different fields, as in the case of SQL databases. Say, for example, you can find Hadoop as an open-source data analysis program that can handle a massive volume of data in the cloud through NoSQL database stacks.

Advantages and disadvantages of SQL and NoSQL databases

As you have a basic understanding of SQL vs. NoSQL databases, let us next look into the advantages

Advantages of each

Advantages of SQL database

  • It has a powerful but simple JOIN clause, a single command to retrieve all related data from different tables.
  • It can fit naturally into corresponding software stacks like LAMP or Ruby-based application stacks.
  • It restricts access to a table so that no one else can insert a row.
  • It has an optimized vertical performance, to horizontal scalability does not come into the picture as a necessity.
  • You can view needed data without sorting it to any object.
  • You need not have to write codes for querying.

Advantages of NoSQL

  • Easy to access for developers
  • These databases use custom APIs, which will let the developers themselves run the queries without knowledge of SQL.
  • Developers need not have to understand the database system and structure as in relational databases as written in object-oriented languages.
  • NoSQL enables rapid development as ongoing updates can be made on the data structure.
  • Enables cloud-based data storage, which can offer substantial cost savings.
  • There is no restriction in terms of the data type. Hence, as RemoteDBA points out, any types of data can be stored in NoSQL, which enables big data and artificial intelligence application integration to the NoSQL DB.

Disadvantages of SQL

  • The process of SQL interfacing is very complicated, even though there is no coding involved.
  • The user interface of SQL databases seems to be complex, making it difficult for many users who access it.
  • Many of the SQL databases have proprietary extensions to ensure vendor lock-ins.
  • As there are many hidden conditions and rules, programmers hardly have the power to manipulate the database.
  • Many times, SQL’s operational expenses are very high.

Disadvantages of NoSQL

  • Even though NoSQL databases have a surge latterly, the community support for these databases seems to lesser compared to the conventional SQL databases.
  • NoSQL still lacks a standardized database platform, which prevents it from expanding further.
  • NoSQL databases are still creating some issues during migration.
  • Interoperability seems to be a concern with NoSQL, and interfaces are also a bit confusing.

Choosing SQL vs. No SQL

In the following cases, choose a NoSQL DBMS may make sense:

  • When data is in key-value pairs, Voldemort, Redis, and Dynamo are some of the top options for key-value data stores.
  • Software with the columnar database. Examples are InfiniteGraph and Neo4J etc. with columnar DBS like HBase and Cassandra.
  • NoSQL database also may not set any limits on the data types to store. It will let you add various types of data without any change.
  • If the data source is a third party, then the NoSQL database could be the right choice for report generation and statistical evaluation.
  • Using smaller, affordable commodity hardware in the cloud or on-site may help avoid the need for any additional software. Databases like Cassandra can be scaled across various data centers.

Choosing an SQL database may make sense in the following situations:

  • SQL is ideal if your data structure Is not frequently changing.
  • When you need optimal speed, SQL’s rate is nearly unbeatable, which helps data retrieval be done much easier.
  • If you do not want to do standardization as unlike NoSQL, SQL databases do not have the chaos of standardization. These follow globally accepted standards of ISI and ANSI.
  • If you want to include more analytical queries, SQL may be an apt choice.
  • If your data in a large structured format, using SQL will help you to retrieve data subsets within a database. You can easily insert, delete, select, add truncate, update, and alter data fields.

To conclude, some other considerations to make are the conventional SQL databases now use ACD compliance, which could help protect the database integrity. Since SQL possesses structured data, there is no need for an integrated support system. The predefined schema and structure make SQL a preferred choice for businesses.

On the other hand, NoSQL is growing highly in popularity for its accommodation of various types of data and the ability to scale up instantly. It also increases development speed, which makes NoSQL a favorite choice of application programmers. Considering all the pros and cons of SQL vs. NoSQL, your priorities, and the nature of your data in hand to identify which database may be ideal for your project.

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