NoSQL, Big Data, Polyglot Persistence… A New Era

I have recently stumbled on a couple posts from Martin Fowler related to a NoSQL Distilled joint book authoring effort. The book announcement excites me as I am looking forward to reading it for a several reasons. Primarily because I have been like a overindulged my inner geek this past year – playing and getting a taste of what I call modern persistence systems. Learning and thinking about Brewer’s CAP theorem and its implications while setting up and trying a few things out with Cassandra and Hbase has been very fun to say the least. However, one thing has bothered me… what do we call this new era of persistence methods?
Today, I came across another post from Fowler where he discussed the term “NoSQL“, what it means in today’s persistence movements, and how he will be using it in his new book. This made me think about all the terms I have heard recently other than NoSQL. Here are a few others:
  • Polyglot Persistence – Another term I learned from reading Flower’s Bliki at least six months ago or more.
  • Big Data – Which is typically used to describe the problem of large data sets which cannot typically be accommodated by today’s traditional relational database systems due to cost, performance, and/or other operational concerns.

Another interesting discussion point, is the interest in other data store models some of which academic circles have previously explored. The recent interest, in my opinion is probably due to the changes in computers and networks since the time when the RDBMS became the preferred standard for data persistence many years ago. Ayende Rahien talks about this on a blog post. Some of different store models available (or in development) current NoSQL systems include:

There are many more discussions taking place in today challenging how we think about persistence. Even traditional physical persistence mechanism is in question. A few years ago the idea of using anything other than a hard disk or a SAN for persistent storage would have been absurd. However, a physically distributed in-memory non-relational database is a viable option (most likely this option will be geographically distributed).  Other topics of discussion include:

  • Clustering techniques
  • Distributed systems

Truth is I don’t know what to call this current persistence movement. To me it seems obvious that terms like “NoSQL”, “Big data”, and even “Polyglot Persistence” are insufficient. We are definitely now in a different era  where a new persistence paradigm has begun. The relational database management systems no longer the only option. While those systems continue to have their place in today’s computing era, their market share is starting to shrink. Relational databases may even evolve to take advantage of the advancements made in this area.

The development, discussion, and research of new persistence solutions is happening now! Challenges issued to older traditional persistence systems are inspiring the revitalization, evolution, and enhancement of the existing software. Some of the old and new will survive, a few will thrive, and many will die. These are exciting times!

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