Questioning the Relational Database

By Deane Barker on July 2, 2009

No to SQL? Anti-database movement gains steam: This is a really good article about how relational databases are falling out of favor with many, in favor of “alternate” datastores like key-value databases or XML databases.

Like the Patriots, who rebelled against Britain’s heavy taxes, NoSQLers came to share how they had overthrown the tyranny of slow, expensive relational databases in favor of more efficient and cheaper ways of managing data.

“Relational databases give you too much. They force you to twist your object data to fit a RDBMS [relational database management system],” said Jon Travis […]  NoSQL-based alternatives “just give you what you need,” Travis said.

In Chicago, the big vibe I got was that content management in general is moving away from relational databases and towards XML databases, like Xindice, eXist, Mark Logic, etc.  It’s weird, and will take some getting used to, but there are some huge advantages to it.

Here’s another article along the same lines: Should you go Beyond Relational Databases? It covers things like CouchDB, MapReduce, BigTable, etc.

And if you’re really in for something funky, I present you with Caravel, a CMS that uses LDAP (a key-value store, at heart) as its storage mechanism.

Even if you swear you’re never giving up your relational database, read these articles for some perspective.



  1. Add EMC’s xDB to the list of native xml DBs. All are freely available to developers while eXist and Xindice are just free. XQuery is your next best step.

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