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Five Predictions for your Database in 2011 - NoSQL Hype Will Decline

04.05.2011
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What does 2011 hold for your database? Below are our main predictions for the year ahead:

  1. Database models and alternatives settle back on SQL

    The recent hype around NoSQL will continue to decline, as DBAs and enterprises return to the proven SQL solutions. As it turns out, the promise for great scalability and distribution that drove the NoSQL adoption early on could not compensate for the lack of the very basic transactional and relational functions, which are core requirements for any commercial application.

    In turn, alternate use cases will be found for NoSQL, and early on signs indicate it is picking up on DW/BI uses – where extra-large data sets and types encompassing high performance key.

  2. Enterprises and Developers will realize that databases in the cloud have specific needs

    Discussion around databases in the cloud is maturing. On the one hand, enterprises and developers started realizing the benefits of the cloud, while on the other hand, they become aware that the cloud is not only about abstraction of virtualization.

    Databases are not only the most mission-critical part of the application, but it’s also becoming abundantly clear that databases in a cloud environment are inherently different than traditional installs. This increased attention given by CIOs and IT professionals to the unique requirements of databases in the cloud will grow stronger in 2011.

    It has become evident that running a database in the cloud is not as simple as installing it over a virtual machine – mostly because of the fluidity of resources and the highly fragmented nature of the cloud. Those who have made their first steps in cloud database architecture discovered that achieving high availability, scalability and multi-tenancy in a cloud setup is more difficult than first perceived.

  3. 2011 is the year of Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS)

    The promise of databases in the cloud goes beyond mere cost reduction and operations efficiency. It is all about simplicity and a “worry free” philosophy. The cloud DBaaS delivers seamless configuration and optimization for your database performance and availability on the cloud. Setup issues and the on-going DB operations become automated or as easy as a click of a button away.

    DB management tasks aimed to ensure high availability, elasticity, and geographical distribution, as well as on-going tedious daily operations – that typically require long and detailed planning, extensive resources and complex execution – all become as simple as click-and-go.

    2011 will be the year of “plug-and-play” for databases – where you could be set up with your highly available database in the cloud in a matter of minutes. Plug-and-play also implies no vendor lock-in, which is a major barrier in current setups. DBaaS will also be implemented in private clouds, as more and more local platforms mature and become similarly plug-and-play.

    Last but not least is the smooth transition – typically no code changes are required in order to run your database in the cloud. In fact, architectural and code scaling considerations such as memcached, sharding etc. become redundant.

  4. Native SaaS pricing

    The SaaS model comes as close as it gets to on-demand computing, where consuming software over the cloud as a service disarms the need for oversubscription (and over-paying) for users and/or for resources.

    2011 will be the year where databases and infrastructure models are pressured into applying the same “keep it simple” SaaS model: pay per actual usage.

    The vision behind the cloud being an on-demand per-use framework does not coincide with the architecture and pricing models of leading services today, such as Amazon RDS, or even databases which are manually configured on pre-set virtual machines. Traditional pricing models for enterprise databases will adjust to reflect the flexibility and the dynamic nature of the cloud.

  5. Elasticity is the key – and in 2011, we expect it to be automatic

    At the end of the day, the availability and potential growth of your application is only as good as the elasticity of your database tier. If previously developers had to choose between elasticity and simplicity of NoSQL, and the transaction and query capabilities of SQL – 2011 will bring more and more live applications that prove you can have it both.

    Elasticity reflects all gating clauses for the application growth (data and throughput), scale, availability and distribution. Offering a dynamically cost effective and operations efficient service boils down to an essentially elastic nature.

    Do not get confused with linear scale that can be typically achieved by scaling a database up (in the same node). It is about scaling out – across nodes: In the enterprise world, being able to burst out for resources or spill-over means scaling out. This is a mandatory requirement for the Cloud Olympic Games.

    True to the plug-and-play ease of use principle, in 2011 we expect elasticity to be automatic. Why be bogged down by manual monitoring and configuration, when you can have your database solution ensure automatic scalability, tuning and backup.

References
Published at DZone with permission of Razi Sharir, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Nigel Eiland replied on Tue, 2011/04/05 - 1:12pm

1. ... or perhaps the hype about "NoSQL hype" will decline and people will accept that there indeed are many good datastores out there (and not all relational too) all with their own benefits, and people will adopt what best suits their situation, rather than just what "big database vendor" insists they pay for.

Jilles Van Gurp replied on Tue, 2011/04/05 - 2:45pm

I think actually the opposite will happen. NoSql is here to stay.

Rather than less hype, I expect more hype. In addition to that, I expect several nosql solutions out there to do major releases that achieve significant progress in maturity, scalability and ease of use.

At the same time, I expect things to evolve in the traditional database world as well.  If NoSql achieved anything, it was calling out existing database solutions as hard to scale, difficult to manage, and in general quite painful to use. It doesn't have to be like that. There's nothing inherent to the technology that is preventing traditional databases to scale. However, there is a lot of legacy and complacency in that world that has caused those who needed it to scale a lot of pain in recent years.

Particularly popular options such as postgresql and mysql are not that great when it comes to scaling out. Things like replication, sharding, etc. are quite painful to set up and there are many pitfalls, bugs, and gotchas to spoil the party. You can easily spend a fortune on consultancy and R&D related to making those products scale without achieving very remarkable results.

Fact: there is an increasing demand for storage solutions that span multiple clusters, across multiple data centers, world wide. There are very few solutions out there that support this well (SQL and NOSQL) and this is exactly where the market is going now. This will come with a change in the way people think about consistency, deal with transactionality, latency, etc. A large reason why NOSQL is happening is because for systems with this kind of requirements, the kind of consistency and transactionality that SQL databases assume is simply not very practical or feasible. Cross data center transactions? Joins that span shards? Full table scans on a database with billions of records? Referential integrity across data centers, or even a single cluster? Not exactly the kind of thing you'd even expect to work (hint: it doesn't). A lot of the NoSQL movement is about not even trying to do things like that and instead coming up with pragmatic, simple solutions for the essentials. Like how to replicate, how to deal with consistency, etc.

Fact: there is a trend underway to depend less on disk storage and more on in memory data. Disk is magnitudes slower than memory and for high demand sites, it is becoming a basic requirement to have all data in memory at all times. This fundamentally changes a few assumptions about how databases work. Redis is a great example of a nice product there. Disk is still involved but optional and merely as a backup solution. You might argue pros and cons of that particular approach but it does challenge a bit the tigh integration between database products and the underlying OS and file systems. Simply replacing the file system with a distributed one seriously messes with some of the performance characteristics expected by most database products.

Fact: the notion of eventual consistency is a great alternative in situations where ACID is simply not feasible. So maybe it won't be consitent all the time but if you come back later it will be consistent. Relaxing ACID buys you some great flexibility at a price that for most use cases and applications is quite OK.

Fact: The SQL world has yet to adjust to this new reality. Doesn't mean it can't do all this but it does mean that an awful lot of people are still in denial about a lot of changes that are going on around them. It also means that technically, SQL based solutions are still lagging behind the NOSQL alternatives when it comes to stuff like this. I agree that there will likely a fair bit of catching up in 2011. But whether it will be enough? I'm not so sure.

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