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When to Use NoSQL vs. Relational Databases

Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and SQLite are just a few of the relational databases that have dominated the development landscape since the 1980s. However, the rise of the internet, including Web 2.0 and Big Data, has complicated things for SQL databases and led to massive changes in application development.

Relational databases, with their normalized structures and enforced relational integrity, are struggling to keep pace with the realities of modern computing and Big Data. Currently, organizations in many industries have adopted NoSQL database technology to facilitate fast, efficient data storage.

Below, we look at when NoSQL is a good choice for building applications.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CHOOSE NOSQL OVER SQL?

You can adopt NoSQL database technology in any of the following situations:

NEED FOR A FASTER PACE OF DEVELOPMENT

If you need to fast-track your application development, NoSQL may be your best choice. The pace of development with NoSQL databases is a lot faster than with an SQL database.

With a NoSQL database, developers can rapidly change datasets without maintaining a specific data model. SQL databases, on the other hand, require DBAs to re-organize the structure of the tables after every change.

Even if the development database is entirely in the hands of developers, updating the forms to ensure the referential integrity and optimized storage structure of the database (SQL model’s primary benefit) remains a time-consuming process. These changes also cause conflicts with the team, as data structure changes need to be merged with each other.

HANDLING OF DIFFERENT FORMS OF DATA

A NoSQL database enables developers to handle and evolve the structure of several different forms of data efficiently. NoSQL databases are better designed to handle, store, and model structured, semi-structured, and even unstructured data in a single database. In essence, you can use NoSQL databases to store data in a form similar to objects you usually use in your applications to help you avoid translating data to a form that it will take in the code.

LARGE AMOUNTS OF DATA 

NoSQL was born out of frustrations with SQL. SQL databases can’t efficiently serve up a large amount of data for many applications. On the other hand, NoSQL database formats enable effortless scalability and are specifically designed to handle Big Data. Unlike SQL databases, the NoSQL databases can handle web-scale applications without a need for additional engineering.

RAPID DATA GROWTH AND SCALABILITY

You may also need to use a NoSQL database if you expect traffic levels to rise or experience increased lag time or disruptions. Most NoSQL databases feature a scale-out strategy that offers a clear path to scaling the amount of traffic to guarantee zero downtime. The scale-out strategy provides several benefits, including the ability to upgrade your database or change its structure to achieve zero downtime when experiencing large volumes of concurrent traffic performance.

The scalability of NoSQL means that one database can serve both your transactional and analytical workloads. Essentially, a single platform supports horizontal scaling across commodity servers. However, in SQL databases, it’s best to use separate application and data warehouse databases to avoid having calculation-intensive analytics queries affect the performance of your production application.

If your data is structured or lends itself to high normalization, your best option may be some flavor of SQL. A great strength of a relational database over its NoSQL counterpart is its enforced structure. This ensures the maintenance of data relationships over time. Another benefit of SQL is its level of maturity and high level of application support.

WHEN DOES A SQL DATABASE MAKE SENSE?

If your organization needs to store structured data, an SQL database may be the best option. A great strength of a relational database over its NoSQL counterpart is its portability and transaction security.

Entrance Consulting Can Help With Your App Development Needs

There’s always a massive amount of innovation occurring in the app development sector. If your organization has more dynamic needs, you’ll do well with a NoSQL solution. This may include scenarios where the number of users accessing your databases via their mobile apps keeps fluctuating dramatically and rapidly.

Additionally, you may also need a NoSQL solution if you need to store and access data across several servers locally or in the cloud. Companies that experience sudden and explosive growth in database use should also consider adopting a NoSQL solution. If you need help getting your project off the ground, contact us. At Entrance, we’re focused on your success — let’s talk app development today.

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