Feeds

When is a database not so relational?

Storage in the cloud

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Deep dive

In the first of two articles on cloud-based data storage, we shall explore the drawbacks of relational databases.

There are two types of databases you can use when hosting data in the cloud: a relational database or one that is so not so relational. For example, Amazon offers a choice of SimpleDB (not so relational) or MySQL (relational).

Soon it will offer Oracle 11g (relational) as another option. Some cloud providers, such as Microsoft, offer a similar choice, while Google, for example, offers only a not-so relational approach.

Typically, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings run on top of relational databases: Salesforce.com is a good instance of this.

Confused? You will be

With all these options, it is important to understand when you might prefer a relational approach or one that is not so relational, or when it might be appropriate to use a hybrid approach.

To begin with, why I have called some databases “not so relational”?

The reason is that there are two classes of these databases which confusingly are known as NoSQL, and NOSQL databases. One stands for “Not SQL” and the other stands for “Not only SQL”.

The basic fact is that these are all non-relational databases in the way that they store data. The distinction between “Not SQL” and “Not only SQL” is that the former can only be addressed via a suitable API and the latter can also be addressed using SQL.

This distinction is not confined to the cloud, neither is it new. For the moment we need to understand the problems that they try to address.

Relationship problems

There are two problems with relational databases in the cloud. The first and most important is to do with scalability. Relational databases scale well, but in most cases this is planned scalability – something you do over time. Dynamic scalability is what you need in the cloud, where workloads can triple overnight and then fall back down to half of where you started.

Classic relational databases are simply not designed for this sort of environment. As an example, applications built on top of Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) need to be cluster-aware to get optimal performance. That is, they need to know how many nodes are available to make best use of them.

The second issue is that relational databases are a poor fit for most software development. This nowadays usually involves an object-oriented approach in which you need to do object-to-relational mapping (and vice-versa) at the interface between the database and code.

Caught mapping

This mapping adds complexity and cost and decreases performance. Not-so-relational databases do not suffer from this to the same extent because they store information in a more object-oriented fashion.

But while the new generation of not-so-relational databases avoids this mismatch through their architecture (usually known as key/value stores) – this capability is by no means new and does not require this key/value architecture. For example, Caché from InterSystems similarly avoids this issue but it is by no means a key/value store – and it supports SQL. ®

This way for our second article on cloud database storage: Which kind of cloud database is right for you?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.