SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Maria C. Horton, Andy Thurai, Zakia Bouachraoui

Blog Feed Post

A Newbie Guide to Databases

image_pdfimage_print

Databases are an incredibly useful tool for storing data. Similar to a library storing books in an organized structure consisting of categories – such as history or art – a database imposes order on your data so that you can quickly construct the information you are looking for. Different types of databases use different structures to organize the data. The kind of database you need to use depends on the nature of your data and how you plan to use it.

A Brief History of Databases

In 1956, IBM introduced hard disk drives that could directly retrieve the information you needed, without having to trawl through all the data stored on the drive. This required data to be organized so that the computer could find and retrieve the correct record. IT giants of the day – IBM and UNIVAC – developed the early database systems.

Structured query language (SQL) is a way of managing information held in databases. It has been very widely used since its development in the 1970s, and it is still a favorite database manipulation tool today. It’s even been extended into Object Query Language (OQL), which you can use to handle databases that contain objects, such as audio files, images, maps, videos and other data that aren’t simply numbers and characters. However, there are ways to deal with databases that go far beyond simple SQL or OQL commands. The name given to methods of database management that don’t use SQL is “NoSQL.”

Types of Databases

Databases come in many forms. Understanding the distinct differences between them will help you to understand how to use each one to store and retrieve your data.

Relational Databases are Useful for Data with a Clear Structure

Relational databases organize data into tables, with joins linking the tables together. For example, consider a company database that includes two tables: one that stores details about each employee, and one which stores information about the various departments. Each row of the first table contains information about one employee, including the number of the department where the employee works. Each row of the second table contains information about a department, including the department name, number, and location. The department number, which appears in both tables, links the tables together into a single database. Thanks to the join between the two tables, you can look up the location of the department where a particular employee works using this database.

 

 

Figure 1 – Relational tables between Employees and Departments

 

Non-Relational Databases Have a More Flexible Structure

Non-relational databases aren’t based on a series of joined tables like relational databases are. As they do not store data in the traditional rows-and-columns format, non-relational databases are harder to visualize, but they can be useful in some circumstances. For example, because non-relational databases use specialized frameworks to store data, they are often used for big data applications.

Extracting Information from Databases

To unlock the secrets of databases, you need to learn to speak their language. For relational databases, that language is usually SQL – structured query language. Some companies, including Microsoft and Oracle, have their own languages for handling databases. These proprietary languages are still based on the standard version of SQL, so you need to understand the basics of how the language works.

What is SQL?

If you want to look up or edit information stored in a database, you’ll need to write SQL scripts that tell your computer what you want to do with the data.

SQL is useful for retrieving or updating information in a relational database. You can also use SQL commands to manipulate data in a Microsoft Access database – technically the data storage in this system is not relational, but you do not need to worry

SQL vs. NoSQL: Pros and Cons

NoSQL has several advantages over SQL. NoSQL databases do not have to contain information in every row or every column. It is also easier to quickly add information to a NoSQL database.

When you are building a relational database, you first need to define the schema – the structure of the database. For example, if you want to create a database that stores customer data, such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, then you need to define these categories in the database before you start adding data to it. If you later decide that you want to add some more categories, such as customers’ usual orders, then you will need to define a new schema that includes those categories. You then have to migrate all the data in the existing database to the new schema, which for large databases can take a long time. This can lead to downtime, during which your customers cannot access functions on your site that depend on the database. Though such periods are necessary for upgrading your service, they can also damage your business’s reputation with the public.

NoSQL databases instead use dynamic schema. You can insert data into this kind of database without having to stop and redefine the database’s structure or cause any downtime. If you do not know what kind of data you’ll need to add into your database, then a NoSQL database could be a convenient choice.

 Source: http://db-engines.com/en/ranking 

Business Needs determine Scalability Needs

NoSQL databases scale more conveniently than their SQL counterparts. For relational databases, scaling is vertical. That means that as you add more data to create a larger database, you need a bigger server to handle it, and those larger servers can be expensive. It is technically possible to scale a relational database across multiple servers instead (horizontal scaling), but it is tricky to set up.

Horizontal scaling is a breeze with NoSQL databases. That means you can spread your database across multiple servers, which gives you the option of using a cheap cloud server rather than a single dedicated server.

What’s the History of NoSQL?

NoSQL had been around since 2009 when developers met to discuss the possibility of using open-source, non-relational databases to manage complex collections of online data. Since that time, four main types of NoSQL databases have been developed: key value, column-oriented, document stored and graph-based.

Which Database Server Should You Use?

There are various types of SQL and NoSQL database servers, each with its set of use cases.

  • MySQL: As one of the most popular database servers, MySQL is an easy option for developers who are new to using databases. There are many tools and libraries to help you achieve whatever you want to use. Many major industry players use MySQL, including Verizon Wireless and Zyme.

  • PostgreSQL: PostgreSQL is an advanced, open-source database management system. It’s not as easy to get started with as MySQL, but it’s the go-to solution if you need your database to perform elaborate procedures, or you need to migrate it to another solution, such as Oracle, in the future. PostgreSQL is used by many major companies, such as Skype.

  • MSSQL: The Microsoft SQL server is useful for data warehousing and analytics. The industry penetration of MSSQL is wide; if you use a Microsoft server, then it is likely to be running the Microsoft SQL Server

In addition to the SQL databases listed above, four main types of NoSQL databases have been developed:

  • Key Value: A key-value database has a hash table containing keys to particular items of data so that they can be easily retrieved. They are a good choice for large databases, particularly when you need to be able to perform quickly small read and write operations and are simple to implement. Oracle BDB is an example of a key value database.

  • Column Oriented: If you need to store immense amounts of data distributed between many machines, then a column-oriented database is an excellent choice.

  • Document Stored: A document stored database is like a key-value database taken to the next level, as you can associate several nested values with each key. They are great for allowing you to efficiently query the database.

  • Graph Based: Able to store data across multiple machines, a graph-based database has a much more flexible structure than the traditional structure of tables made up or rows and columns. This type of database is useful in social networking applications.

Is NoSQL the Future of Databases?

Despite the name, the aim of NoSQL is not to consign SQL to the history books. In fact, NoSQL stands for “not only SQL”. There are still plenty of applications where SQL is useful, such as those where you know that the structure of the data will not change. However, in situations where the amount of data you have to handle grows rapidly and could require a change in the database structure, a NoSQL database is the right choice.

NoSQL offers the flexibility that modern businesses need to help them manage massive amounts of complex data. As big data becomes increasingly important in a broad range of industries, NoSQL databases provide a format in which many different types of data can be stored and analyzed, allowing companies to gain insight into all aspects of their business.

Interested in learning more about database performance and monitoring? Read more here

The post A Newbie Guide to Databases appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog | AppDynamics.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By AppDynamics Blog

In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally.

DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.

Latest Stories
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin, ...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
According to the IDC InfoBrief, Sponsored by Nutanix, “Surviving and Thriving in a Multi-cloud World,” multicloud deployments are now the norm for enterprise organizations – less than 30% of customers report using single cloud environments. Most customers leverage different cloud platforms across multiple service providers. The interoperability of data and applications between these varied cloud environments is growing in importance and yet access to hybrid cloud capabilities where a single appl...
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
In today's always-on world, customer expectations have changed. Competitive differentiation is delivered through rapid software innovations, the ability to respond to issues quickly and by releasing high-quality code with minimal interruptions. DevOps isn't some far off goal; it's methodologies and practices are a response to this demand. The demand to go faster. The demand for more uptime. The demand to innovate. In this keynote, we will cover the Nutanix Developer Stack. Built from the foundat...
"Cloud computing is certainly changing how people consume storage, how they use it, and what they use it for. It's also making people rethink how they architect their environment," stated Brad Winett, Senior Technologist for DDN Storage, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Sold by Nutanix, Nutanix Mine with Veeam can be deployed in minutes and simplifies the full lifecycle of data backup operations, including on-going management, scaling and troubleshooting. The offering combines highly-efficient storage working in concert with Veeam Backup and Replication, helping customers achieve comprehensive data protection for all their workloads — virtual, physical and private cloud —to meet increasing business demands for uptime and productivity.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessio...
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...