Hybrid Databases: Combining Relational and NoSQL

By Ariel Maislos

Although NoSQL databases have been gaining popularity over the years, the idea behind them isn’t really new. What’s changed is the availability of new solutions and their improved reliability and performance, leading to expanded use from a niche audience to a broader one.

Nowadays, especially thanks to this broad range of tools for developing robust database systems, we shouldn’t stubbornly stick to our preferred solution simply for subjective reasons, but instead make use of the best tools available for a specific task or project requirement. Sometimes, your best bet is a combination of relational and NoSQL databases because one often complements the other.

The Difference Between the Two

Relational databases require you to structure a database into tables and then each table into columns according to data types. The relational part comes in with defining certain columns in a table as foreign keys of another table. That way you create links between entities. This is a great approach, but it doesn’t allow you to restructure your data on the fly, to remove some columns without losing data, or to add columns without migrating all the previous entries to a new schema.

NoSQL databases, however, don’t require you to stick to any predefined structure. Just enter data in a form and it’s stored. This applies to a lot of use cases, some of which we’ll go over later, but it also presents a potential problem. The freedom to add any type of data to the database means that some developers don’t actually design the database. Instead, they “add stuff” and worry about that stuff later. Except later, when they need to review or analyze data from their databases, they end up with problems. For example, they’ve renamed a field five times and now they have to check each entry for five fields. An additional downside of NoSQL databases is that they require more storage than relational databases, and you need to manage all the relations.

Hybrid Use Cases

There are certain scenarios where it would be wise to either add NoSQL databases to an existing relational database or vice versa. The reasons vary from just wanting to cache the reads to enhancing your queries to scaling your data more easily across servers. Here are three use cases for a hybrid setup.

Use Case: Document Database

ERP solutions are historically a stronghold for relational databases, but they’re lacking the flexibility to enable their users to customize entry forms without updating the database schema. By adding a NoSQL document database into the system, users can create and edit forms quickly, as needed. The data will be stored as documents, and it will be future-proofed for any form parameter changes moving forward. Some relational database vendors have recognized the need for such a blended solution and implemented something similar to a document database inside of their relational database. Microsoft SQL Server 2016, for example, offers support for storing JSON documents inside cells, which does ease up workflow but also complicates updating that data compared to updating data Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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