One of the more predictable things about any revolution is that one can never be quite sure what the outcome of the rebellion might actually wind up being.
Clearly, there is a lot of unrest in the database world these days, which seems to be rallying around the "NoSQL" battle cry. But when you look at what exactly comprises this movement, you find a little bit of everything that is not an SQL database these days, including Hadoop, document databases such as CouchDB and Mongo and object-oriented databases.
Of these technologies, object-oriented databases have been around the longest. In fact, proponents of object-oriented databases fought their own war against SQL relational databases, which for the most part they soundly lost. But Robert Greene, vice president of technology for Versant, a provider of object-oriented database systems, sees the NoSQL movement, coupled with the advent of Big Data, creating new interest in object-oriented databases.
At the NoSQL Now! Conference, Greene will make a case that the need for better performance when trying to manipulate Big Data will create a new demand for an alternative to Hadoop and other NoSQL formats. There's still a lot of interest in getting out from under the costs associated with SQL databases, it's just that IT organizations don't want to sacrifice performance to achieve that goal.
At the same time, Greene notes that as business processes become more complex, IT organizations are looking for ways to create "soft schemas" that link various sets of data and processes, rather than having to tax their systems by asking a SQL database to rediscover every association once a query is launched.
Greene notes that Versant's database technology is already pretty widely used in not only applications that have complex business processes, but in high-volume online transaction processing environments as well.
It's too early to say where the NoSQL movement will lead. But it does seem apparent that the era when IT organizations could focus their data management efforts solely on SQL database technology, usually from a single vendor such as Oracle or IBM, is starting to come to a close. After all, IT today is all about applying the right tool to the right job. That may increase the level of complexity that needs to be managed, but it should also lead to better outcomes for the business.