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Introduction to NoSQL

  • Utsav Mishra
  • Jul 03, 2021
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What will you do if you are provided with a lot of datasets and are told to generate a meaningful outcome out of the same? You will spend most of the time organizing and arranging that data in spreadsheets or databases. After that, you will begin with some operations of the data stored in the databases. 


This time when we talk about databases, we know what it is. It is nothing but an organized collection of data that can be accessed and used according to the needs of the user.


When we talk about retrieving or accessing data from databases, we need a language for it to make communication with the program much easier. All this while, the language we have been working with was SQL, the language of the database. In a relational database, SQL is used to manage the data held or stored in it. 


What is a relational database then? It is nothing but a database that is structured to find relations between the stored items. And here SQL is the language of it. But with the expansion of technology, we have been subjected to not just relational databases. 


And while working on the non-relational ones, SQL didn’t seem to be that effective. In this case, there was a need for a new language, and here we are with the new language, named NoSQL. In this blog, we are going to talk about NoSQL.


(Also read: SQL Tutorial for beginners)



What is NoSQL?


A NoSQL database, which stands for "non SQL" or "non-relational," is a database that allows for data storage and retrieval. This information is represented in ways other than tabular relationships seen in relational databases. Such databases initially appeared in the late 1960s, but it wasn't until the early twenty-first century that they were given the name NoSQL. 


NoSQL databases are increasingly being utilized in real-time online applications and large data analytics. Not simply SQL is a term used to underline the fact that NoSQL systems may offer SQL-like query languages.


Design simplicity, horizontal scaling to clusters of computers, and better control over availability are all advantages of a NoSQL database. The data structures used by NoSQL databases differ from those used by relational databases by default, which allows NoSQL to perform some operations quicker. 


The appropriateness of a NoSQL database is determined by the issue it is supposed to address. NoSQL databases' data structures are sometimes seen to be more flexible than relational database tables.


It's a frequent misunderstanding that non-relational databases, or NoSQL databases, can't hold relationship data properly. Relationship data can be stored in NoSQL databases, although they do it in a different way than relational databases. 


Many people believe that modeling relationship data in NoSQL databases is easier than modeling relationship data in SQL databases since related data does not have to be separated between tables.


(Related blog: SQL vs NoSQL)


Types of NoSQL Databases


Following are the four major types of NoSQL databases;


  1. Document Databases


Document databases, like JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) objects, store data in documents. Each document has a set of field and value pairs. The values might be of many sorts, such as texts, integers, booleans, arrays, or objects, and their structures are usually aligned with the objects that developers interact with within code. 


Document databases are useful for a broad number of use cases and may be utilized as a general-purpose database due to their variety of field value types and strong query languages. They can expand out horizontally to accommodate enormous data volumes.


(Also read: Revisiting the Basics: What’s Inside JavaScript Engine?)



  1. Key-Value Databases


Key-value databases are a simpler form of database that has keys and values for each item. Learning how to query for a certain key-value pair is usually straightforward because a value can only be accessed by referencing its key. 


Key-value databases are ideal for situations in which you need to store a significant quantity of data but don't need to access it using complicated queries. Caching and saving user preferences are two common use cases. Popular key-value databases include Redis and DynamoDB.



  1. Wide-Column stores


Tables, rows, and dynamic columns are all stored in wide-column stores. Because each row does not have to have the same columns, wide-column stores offer a lot more freedom than relational databases. Many people regard two-dimensional key-value databases to be wide-column stores. 


When you need to store a big quantity of data and you know what your query patterns will be, wide-column stores are ideal. Wide-column storage is frequently used to store data from the Internet of Things and user profiles. Two of the most popular wide-column stores are Cassandra and HBase.



  1. Graph Databases


Data is stored in nodes and edges in graph databases. Edges hold information about the relationships between nodes, whereas nodes store information about people, locations, and objects. 


Graph databases excel in use cases like social networks, fraud detection, and recommendation engines, where you need to traverse relationships to seek for patterns. Graph databases such as Neo4j and JanusGraph are examples.



How does NoSQL work?


To understand how NoSQL works we need to do a comparative study.


Let us start with the case of SQL databases.


Setting up a database for addresses in a SQL database starts with the logical creation of the format and the assumption that the records to be kept would remain largely unaltered. 

An SQL database could minimize storage in two databases, one for basic information and one for customer information, after evaluating the predicted query patterns. The last name is the key to both tables.


Each column in a SQL database has these fixed attributes:


  • Last name :: first name :: middle initial :: address fields :: email address :: phone number

  • Last name :: date of birth :: account number :: customer years :: communication preferences


(Must read: SQL: Easy or Tough)


Now let us look at the case of the NoSQL Database, each NoSQL database type has its own working model.


Each form of NoSQL database would be built with a unique client circumstance in mind, and each type of database would be structured for technical reasons. The easiest type to explain is a document database, which would naturally include both fundamental information and client information in a single JSON document. 


Each of the SQL column properties would be fields in this example, and the data values associated with each field would be the contents of a customer's record.


For example: Last_name: "steps", First_name: "analytics", Middle_initial: "NA", etc.


Advantages of NoSQL


NoSQL as compared to RDBMS is highly beneficial, following are the top-7 advantages of NoSQL.


  1. Schema with write Database


It's fantastic if you need to keep track of files with unknown structures that have distributed features. We've used it to store and query events that typically include a date, an array of tags, and a value with a metadata object that explains what happened in this function.



  1.  Dynamic Schema


It can make it easier to progress data structures by several terabytes of content material as compared to using ALTER TABLE commands with databases.



  1. Nested Object structure


If you're using an object-oriented language, it allows you to avoid a lot of joins and "feels more organic" than relations and tables.



  1. Increment Procedures


It was very simple to add instances, such as counters for the reader's view, to the database without having to use numerous read/write methods.



  1. Indexable Array Characteristics


This appears to be the most simple feature, but it is really useful since it allows you to tag files with numerous tags and find them fast by applying those tags.



  1. Outscaling


Databases scaling out For many years, database managers have relied on scaling up a relational database to achieve efficiency gains. Scaling up entails purchasing larger servers as demand grows or expanding the hardware assets available to the present system when it reaches its limits.


(Referred blog: Top Sites for learning SQL)



  1. There is less management


Despite huge advancements in our DBMS domain over the years, relational databases rely heavily on database administrators, also known as DBAs. On the other hand, NoSQL databases are typically built from the ground up to eliminate needless management, automated data distribution, and simpler data models, resulting in lower administration and performance demands.




NoSQL can be called the language for non-relational databases. But the fact remains the same that we can’t talk about it without mentioning SQL. Most of the time it is a comparative study between these two.


(Recommended blog: 10 SQL Project Ideas & Topics For Beginners)


But as we go into non-relational databases,  we find out that NoSQL is highly beneficial in the case given. It is simple and with a scale-free architecture, it gives the user a lot of freedom. That is the main reason we mentioned it as the language of non-relational database management systems.

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