Thursday, February 06, 2014

NoSQL? No Thanks

There continues to be a disproportionate amount of hype around 'NoSQL' data stores.  By disproportionate I mean 'completely and utterly out of scale with the actual problems of the vast majority of companies'.  I wrote before about 'how NoSQL became more SQL'.  The point I made there is now more apparent the more I work with companies on Big Data challenges.

There are three worlds of data interaction developing

  1. Traditional Reporting - its SQL, deal with it
  2. Complex Analytics - its about the tools and languages, R, SAS, MADLib, etc
  3. Embedding in applications
The point here is that getting all those reports, and more importantly all those people who write reports, re-written using a NoSQL approach makes no sense.  Sure Statistical languages and tools aren't SQL, but is it right to claim they are NoSQL approaches?  I'd argue not.  The use of a NoSQL database such as Hadoop or MongoDB is about the infrastructure behind it, its hidden from the users so while it make good technical sense to use such a data store it really doesn't change the way the users are working.

The point in these two areas is that its about the tools that people use to interact with information and supporting the languages they use to interact with that information.  The infrastructural question is simply one of abstraction and efficiency.  Like caring about whether your laptop is connecting over 802.11g or 802.11n, yes I know you care but that is because you are a techy.  The person using their iPad doesn't care as long as the videos stream from YouTube successfully.  Its the end user experience that counts not the infrastructure.

The final case is the world of developers, and here is another shock: business users couldn't care less what developers use as long as they deliver. If you can deliver better using SQL then use that, if you use NoSQL then use that, if you can deliver better by using a random number generator and the force then go for it.  Again however the business doesn't care if you use NoSQL or not and nor should they. What they care about is that it works, meets the business requirements and non-functionals and can be changed when they need it to.

Stop trying to force a technical approach onto the business, start hiding your technical infrastructure while giving them the tools and languages that they want.

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