Will relational databases be obsolete?

I had a friend once who was a Unix geek. He tried to convince me for a long time about how he could create a relational database only using unix tools like sed and awk .

By ‘relational database’ he meant that, he could create and manipulate data from flat files using uinx file processing tools.
It was amusing on first impressions, but he did have a point i.e. the basics of a relational database are simple. The complexity lies in the scaling, support etc.

For a long time, I thought that corporations and enterprises would always pay a premium for relational databases since they needed the scale and the transaction processing power and the protection for their data ..

Until I saw how facebook uses open source to scale

In a nutshell, facebook users spend 8 billion minutes on the site every day. There are 3.5 billion pieces of content shared weekly. 2.5 billion photos are uploaded every month, and 1.2 million photos are served up every second. And as 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States, the amount of data served and stored is further complicated by the locations of users and data centers.

So, facebook uses the LAMP stack but also Memcached: memory object caching system; Hadoop open-source software for reliable, scalable, distributed computing ; Cassandra: Distributed storage system for managing structured data; Hive: data warehouse infrastructure built on top of Hadoop; HipHop: which transforms PHP source code into a highly optimized C++.; Scribe: Facebook logs approximately 25 terabytes of data a day. so Facebook developed Scribe to log data streamed in real time from a large number of servers; Thrift: Thrift provides a framework for scalable cross-language services development in C++, Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby. Etc ..

And now comes xeround
Xeround launches its new database that is, according to CEO Razi Sharir, “the best of both worlds.” In other words, Xeround’s new database technology promises both the transactional and query capabilities of relational databases alongside the scalability of NoSQL ones.

So, if you compare with a classic relational database like Oracle which is expensive, many of the features and scalability seems to be possible.

So, while I smiled at the sed-awk-rdbms, I am not so sure now!

Maybe relational databases will be obsolete more sooner than I thought ..


44% Of Business IT Pros Never Heard Of NoSQL – They should. It’s fast, resilient, and often cheaper than conventional databases. Plus, it’s the backbone of many Web 2.0 sites.


  1. Tony Fish says:

    Ajit – thought provoking

    so it not about the technology (database), it is about the data. I expect in the b2b world it is also about the service(s)

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    well for database vendors it is about the technology .. i.e. the post is about the tools(open source tools). thanks for comment rgds Ajit

  3. Good article, i work with a relational database day to day and you have raised some interesting points and i look forward to trying out the new Xeround.