Different horses for different courses: NoSQL and what your business needs

This is a guest post by Manu Marchal, managing director EMEA at Basho Technologies

While the importance of distributed databases has become more apparent for a large number of businesses, with more and more enterprises in a wide variety of industries identifying the power of harnessing unstructured data, there are still many misconceptions about NoSQL.

It is a common misconception that NoSQL databases act as all-purpose Swiss-army knives, with each platform able to address each enterprise’s specific data needs. This is a myth that should be dispelled – NoSQL platforms conform to the old adage that it takes different horses for different courses, with each one offering a variety of strengths and weaknesses, and each capable of catering to enterprises’ own specific needs, whether they require speed, reliability, flexibility, or scalability.

When faced with a multitude of choice, it is a natural human reaction to seek out the quickest option. With databases, there is often the assumption that the platform providing the fastest speeds is the one most suited to their organisation. This, however, is not the case, and as a carpenter wouldn’t use a hammer to sand a surface, enterprises should only select the platform that suits their needs best.

In the gaming industry, for example, it is of the utmost importance to process huge amounts of data quickly and reliably, ensuring that customers who want to place a bet at a specific time can do so. This data is changing so frequently – from score updates, to red cards, to number of corners – that it is absolutely imperative that gaming companies can empower users to place bets without delay while also updating odds and processing pay-outs. Needless to say, there’s a lot of scope for things to go wrong here, and if this were to happen it would cost the company a great deal of money. Of course speed is important to the gaming industry, but arguably not as vital as a platform that can be relied upon to smoothly process the data under extreme duress and to not falter during failure scenarios.

Our own technology Riak, for example, is fast but not the fastest on the market. What it does do well, however, and why it is now being used by bet365 to process the enormous amount of data the company relies upon, is reliably scale and ensure performance under pressure, a vital asset for businesses who can’t afford for any increased latency during peak times. Riak is made for mission critical applications and gives organisations that rely on such applications peace of mind. Now, we’re not saying that this is what your organisation is looking for – perhaps you actually do need explosive speed – what we are saying is that enterprises are different, and so are NoSQL platforms.

By being aware of just how differently each platform can serve their enterprise, IT managers can better cater to their requirements and select the most appropriate platform for them, rather than finding out the hard way that for businesses and NoSQL platforms, there is no one-size-fits-all.